Broken Jaw (cont.)
Broken Jaw Exams and Tests
A doctor will conduct a physical exam and order X-rays if indicated. No blood tests are needed unless there are underlying health problems suspected that may have played a role in the trauma (for example, falls due to medical problems) or if you need to go to the operating room to have the fracture fixed.
- The physical examination would consist of a general inspection of the face for obvious deformity, bruising, or swelling. The next step would begin with feeling the jawbone through the skin.
- The doctor will check the movement of the mandible. Once the external exam is complete, the doctor will check inside the mouth. Patients will be asked to bite down, and their teeth will be assessed for alignment.
- The doctor will check the jawbone for stability. With the straight blade test, the doctor may place a tongue blade (tongue depressor, a flat wooden stick) between the upper and lower teeth and evaluate whether the patient can hold the blade in place.
- The best screening film is the panoramic mandibular X-ray, an X-ray that covers completely around the jawbone. This type of
X-ray is not often available in smaller hospitals, so other views are substituted. If the initial
X-rays are negative, a CT scan may be indicated if the doctor suspects the patient has a broken jaw but no fractures visible with initial X-rays.
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