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Dental Emergency Case Study: Frank

Frank came in to see Dr. Vakay at Centreville Dental Wellness Center after experiencing a traumatic injury to his mouth in a game of football that left him with severe jaw pain. 

A 34-year-old with excellent oral health, Frank unfortunately neglected to wear a protective mouthguard during this impact sport, which carries a higher risk for dental trauma than mother sports. When a hit from an opponent forcefully pushed him to the ground, Frank’s jaw absorbed the impact of the fall.

Dr. Vakay was able to see Frank on an emergency basis to evaluate his injury so Frank didn’t have to go to the emergency room or wait to receive treatment. After taking x-rays, Dr. Vakay determined that Frank had a dislocated jaw, not a fractured one.

While still a severe injury, a dislocated jaw tends to be moderately less painful and requires less invasive treatment than a broken jaw.

During Frank’s visit, Dr. Vakay was able to manually reposition the jaw after providing Frank with pain relief to alleviate his discomfort. Dr. Vakay and Frank discussed a recommended treatment plan to allow his jaw to heal over the coming weeks, including avoiding hard-to-chew foods, keeping the jaw bandaged to avoid opening his jaw too wide (which could cause recurring injury), and anti-inflammatory medications.

Fortunately, Frank’s jaw was able to heal without additional intervention, as is sometimes necessary in patients that have had previous issues with their jaw such as dislocations. Frank returned for a few follow-up visits to ensure his jaw was healing properly. 

If Frank had been wearing a custom mouthguard, the mouthguard would have helped absorb the impact of his fall and would have likely resulted in a much less severe injury, if any injury at all.

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