Mandibular Fracture

A mandibular fracture is a break in the jawbone.

CAUSES

The most common cause of mandibular fracture is a direct blow (trauma) to the jaw. This could happen from:

  • A car crash.

  • Physical violence.

  • A fall from a high place.

SYMPTOMS

  • Pain.

  • Swelling.

  • Difficulty and pain when closing the mouth.

  • Feeling that the teeth are not aligned properly when closing the mouth (malocclusion).

  • Difficulty speaking.

  • Difficulty swallowing.

DIAGNOSIS

Your caregiver will take your history and perform a physical exam. He or she may also order imaging tests, such as X-rays or a computed tomography (CT) scan, to confirm your diagnosis.

TREATMENT

Surgery is often needed to put the jaw back in the right position. Wires are usually placed around the teeth to hold the jaw in place while it heals. Treatment may also include pain medicine, ice, and a soft or liquid diet.

HOME CARE INSTRUCTIONS

  • Put ice on the injured area.

  • Put ice in a plastic bag.

  • Place a towel between your skin and the bag.

  • Leave the ice on for 15 to 20 minutes, 3 to 4 times a day for the first 2 days.

  • Only take over-the-counter or prescription medicines for pain, discomfort, or fever as directed by your caregiver.

  • Eat a well-balanced, high-protein soft or liquid diet as directed by your caregiver.

  • If your jaws are wired, follow your caregiver's instructions for wired jaw care.

  • Sleep on your back to avoid putting pressure on your jaw.

  • Avoid exercising to the point that you become short of breath.

SEEK MEDICAL CARE IF:

  • You have a severe headache or numbness in your face.

  • You have severe jaw pain that is not relieved with medicine.

  • Your jaw wires become loose.

  • You have uncontrollable nausea or anxiety.

  • Your swelling or redness gets worse.

SEEK IMMEDIATE MEDICAL CARE IF:

  • You have a fever.

  • You have difficulty breathing.

  • You feel like your airway is tightening.

  • You cannot swallow your saliva.

  • You make a high-pitched whistling sound when you breathe (wheezing).

MAKE SURE YOU:

  • Understand these instructions.

  • Will watch your condition.

  • Will get help right away if you are not doing well or get worse.