Lower Jaw Fractures: What to Expect

Lower jaw fractures, or mandibular fractures, can happen for several reasons. The most common are vehicle accidents and, unfortunately, acts of violence. Just as with other fractures within the body, these breaks can range from mild to severe, come with a variety of symptoms, and require a personalized treatment plan.

Symptoms of a Mandibular Fracture

Many times, a lower jaw fracture is quite noticeable. There may be a visible change in shape, you could have difficulty breathing or speaking, and there may even be some bleeding. Minor fractures may not be as evident but it’s just as important to seek treatment as soon as possible. Symptoms include pain and swelling, increased heat, and numbness or bruising.

Diagnostic Imaging

The most accurate way to diagnose maxillofacial injuries such as these is 3D dental imaging. This type of imaging recreates a patient’s teeth, mouth, and jaw but also ears, nose, and throat. With a complete digital picture, your oral surgeon can see the location and severity of any fractures present, even minor ones that a 2D image may not show clearly. However, those more traditional 2D diagnostic imaging options such as x-ray and CT scan are also options.

Possible Treatments

No bone fracture is the same and each will need to be evaluated by a trained maxillofacial surgeon to determine the best treatment option.

  • For minor breaks, you may be required to simply rest your jaw, only opening your mouth to eat or drink.
  • Many lower jaw fractures are treated by wiring the mouth closed. This is similar to wearing a cast on a broken arm and it helps to stabilize the jaw as the bones heal.
  • Serious breaks could require surgery to fix the bones in place. Wiring the mouth closed after surgery may be necessary, but not always.

What to Expect During Recovery

Just as with treatment, your recovery will be unique to the location and severity of your lower jaw fractures as well as the type of treatment needed.

  • The treatment used to repair the break will determine what you can eat during recovery. If your mouth needs to be wired closed, you will be on a liquid diet for a while.
  • Medications to reduce inflammation and pain are common and you may be prescribed an antibiotic to prevent infection.
  • It’s important to maintain excellent oral hygiene while healing from a broken mandible and while it may be difficult to brush your teeth, a good antibacterial mouth rinse can help.
  • You will most likely spend some time in physical therapy after the bones have healed to regain the strength and proper movement of your jaw muscles.

The Katy Cypress Oral Surgery & Implant Center is ready to care for your mandibular fracture. If you have been diagnosed or suspect that you’ve broken your lower jaw, call us at (281) 667-0607 to let us know as soon as possible.

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