dislocated jaw

Last reviewed 01/2018

The jaw sometimes dislocates after enthusiastic laughing, chewing or kissing.

Palpate to check there has not been a fracture.

Types of dislocation

  • the mandible usually dislocates anteriorly, and subluxes when the jaw is opened wide
  • other dislocations imply the presence of a fracture and require referral to a surgeon

Dislocation is often a chronic problem and associated with temporomandibular joint dysfunction.

If dislocation is not obvious, then consider other conditions, such as:

  • fracture
  • hemarthrosis
  • closed lock of the joint meniscus
  • myofascial pain.

Clinical features:

  • severe pain at TMJ and over masseter muscle
  • the jaw is pushed forward from its normal position
  • the patient cannot bite the teeth together
  • dislocation on one side only causes asymmetrical deviation of the chin
  • bilateral dislocation causes the jaw to protrude
  • the patient has difficulty speaking (2)
  • severe pain anterior to the ear (2)
  • a depression can be seen or felt in the preauricular area (2)