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In Street Clothes

Covering sports injuries from the perspective of a certified athletic trainer and backed by analytics.

Understanding JaMychal Green’s Jaw Fracture

The 2018-19 NBA season is underway and the injuries are already beginning to pile up. In Memphis, power forward JaMychal Green is slated to miss at least four weeks after suffering a broken jaw against the Hawks. Green was injured in the third quarter of the team’s win after being struck in the mouth by an errant elbow. The Grizzlies later confirmed Green suffered a fractured jaw on the play and was forced to undergo surgery to stabilize the break.

The jaw is comprised of the bones that contain the teeth. The upper jaw includes the two paired maxilla bones. The maxillae form the front of the mouth and contain the top row of teeth. The lower jaw is a single bone, the mandible. It is the only freely moveable bone of the skull and serves as the anchor site for the bottom teeth.

Jaw fractures in the NBA are relatively uncommon.  Since the 2005-06 season, there have been 11 recorded “jaw” fractures in the NBA, including breaks of the mandible and maxillae. This list, headlined by players like Kyrie Irving, Lou Williams, and former Memphis center Hasheem Thabeet, includes Green, who suffered a broken maxilla during the 2016-17 season. The average missed time for these injuries is five games for non-surgical cases and jumps to nine for those that require surgical intervention.

It appears Green’s injury will appear more costly as early estimates have him sidelined for at least a month. This is likely to avoid contact to insure the stabilization is not disrupted. The exact bone Green fractured was not revealed though replays show he did lose teeth on impact. This suggests a malocclusion (change in his bite) may have occurred and would set up the need for a more extensive surgery.

The injury is a setback for a player who has endured multiple injuries during his time in the league. However injury creates opportunity, paving the way for rookie Jaren Jackson Jr. to join the starting lineup alongside center Marc Gasol.