Jaw Bone Infection: What To Know About Osteomyelitis of the Jaw?

Jaw pain

Jaw bone infection, also known as osteomyelitis of the jaw, usually happens because of untreated oral bacteria in the mouth. In fact, the infection of the jaw is similar to a dental abscess that needs immediate treatment. Hence, if you have a fever, jaw pain, or jaw swelling, make an appointment with your dentist as soon as possible. Appropriate medical or dental intervention is necessary to altogether remove the infection. Keep reading to understand the treatment for jaw bone infections, including how physical therapy can help improve the function of your jaw.


Osteomyelitis of the Jaw

Osteomyelitis is the infection and inflammation of the bone marrow. It most frequently influences the bones of the extremities, pelvis, and spine. Though rare, this condition can affect the temporomandibular joint or TMJ that can cause severe issues with the bones of the face and jaw.

Generally, osteomyelitis of the jaws occurs when the bacteria enters the body through poor oral hygiene. It may also develop after an injury to the jaw or oral surgery like a root canal treatment or tooth extraction.

Additionally, the infection in the jaw occurs more in men than women and people with diabetes or other diseases that affect the immune system.

Moreover, the infection limits blood flow to the affected area, causing necrotic bone or bone death. Hence, enough blood supply is necessary to heal the infected bone properly. In fact, white blood cells in the affected part play an important role in healing, but the constant presence of white blood cells close to the bone causes the bone to break down.


Signs and Symptoms

Any diseases and infections in the mouth can hinder a person from developing a healthy smile. In fact, this can lead to other complications. Knowing symptoms of osteomyelitis can help prevent further issues and make you aware to seek immediate help. Signs of osteomyelitis of the jaw include:

  • Jaw pain
  • Jaw stiffness
  • Fever
  • Facial swelling
  • Fatigue
  • Headache or neck pain
  • Tooth loss
  • Pus
  • Sinus drainage
  • A palpable bump on the bone of the jaw


Clinical Diagnosis

The doctor will examine the affected area for indications of osteomyelitis. Then, they will ask about your medical history, particularly any recent operations, infections, or accidents. In addition, they may also perform some tests, such as:

  • Blood tests to determine if you have an infection.
  • Biopsy to know a suitable treatment.
  • Imaging tests such as X-ray, MRI, or CT scan to reveal any bone damage.


How To Treat Osteomyelitis

Treatment relies upon the kind of osteomyelitis.


Acute Osteomyelitis

Acute osteomyelitis can be life-threatening, and the pain can be intense. Your doctor may prescribe antibiotics or antifungal medicines. Some patients require hospital treatment, while others might get injections as an outpatient or at home if they can do it themselves.


Sub-Acute Osteomyelitis

Treatment relies upon the seriousness and if there is any bone harm. If no bone damage is present, treatment is similar to acute osteomyelitis. However, if there is bone damage, your doctor will recommend treatment identical to chronic osteomyelitis.


Chronic Osteomyelitis

Generally, this type of chronic infection requires the help of a qualified medical or dental provider, like Bundoora’s leading dentists, Radiant Smiles.A trained health professional may recommend antibiotics and surgery to treat the infection and repair any bone damage.


Surgical Treatment

Surgery can incorporate:

  • Draining any pus or fluid that has developed in response to the infection.
  • Removing an infected bone or any surrounding tissue with signs of infection.
  • Restoring blood flow to the damaged bone by placing a piece of bone tissue or skin from another part of the body.
  • Removing any foreign objects such as surgical plates or screws from previous surgery, if necessary.
  • Stabilizing the affected bone by inserting metal plates, rods, or screws.


Physical Therapy

A trained physical therapist can help reestablish the natural movement and function of your jaw. However, the antibiotics need to take effect first. Once you have completed taking your antibiotics, you might experience restricted movement at the TMJ and cervical spine. You may also have some minor head pain.

During your first appointment with a physical therapist, the therapist will:Therapy to improve jaw movement.

  • Check your medical history, and discuss any previous surgery, injuries, or other fractures to your head, neck, or jaw.
  • Perform a physical examination of your neck and jaw
  • Assess your posture and the movements of your neck
  • Examine your TMJ, whether there are any abnormalities in jaw movement due to osteomyelitis.

The therapist may put their hand in your mouth to inspect the condition of your jaw. After that, the physical therapist will choose suitable treatments to improve jaw movement and reduce pain.



A healthy lifestyle can help prevent infection in the jaw and create strong bones in the body. In fact, people who are susceptible to infections should be particularly mindful of doing the following:

  • Have a well-balanced, healthy diet
  • Do proper exercise
  • Practice good hygiene
  • Avoid smoking, as this weakens the immune system and adds to poor circulation

Infection of the jaw may happen for various reasons. So if you think you develop some infection in your mouth, visit your dentist or doctor as soon as possible to rule out any further complications.



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