Jaw Fracture In Children
WHAT YOU SHOULD KNOW:
- A jaw fracture is also known as a mandibular fracture. This occurs when your child's mandible (lower jawbone) is broken. The jaw is a long bone that forms the chin and holds the lower teeth. It goes up towards the ear on both sides of the face. Where it ends is called a condyle. The condyle is part of the jaw joint that helps in opening and closing the mouth. A jaw fracture is caused by an injury to the head or face. A direct blow during a fight, physical abuse, or car accident may cause the trauma.
- Common signs and symptoms may include a bump, cut, bruise, swelling, or deformity on his jaw. Your child may have missing or loose teeth or a feeling that his teeth do not fit together. He may also have trouble breathing, talking, eating, biting, swallowing, or opening his mouth. An x-ray, magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), or computerized tomography (CT) scan may be used for diagnosis.
- Treatment may include medicines for the relief of symptoms or surgery if the fracture is bad. The younger your child is, the faster the fracture will heal without further problems. With proper treatment, care, and follow-up, your child has a greater chance of having a full recovery. As your child's caregiver for more information about these tests and treatments.
- Keep a current list of your child's medicines: Include the amounts, and when, how, and why they are taken. Bring the list and the medicines in their containers to follow-up visits. Carry your child's medicine list with you in case of an emergency. Throw away old medicine lists. Give vitamins, herbs, or food supplements only as directed.
- Give your child's medicine as directed: Call your child's healthcare provider if you think the medicine is not working as expected. Tell him if your child is allergic to any medicine. Ask before you change or stop giving your child his medicines.
- Do not give aspirin to children under 18 years of age: Your child could develop Reye syndrome if he takes aspirin. Reye syndrome can cause life-threatening brain and liver damage. Check your child's medicine labels for aspirin, salicylates, or oil of wintergreen.
- Ibuprofen or acetaminophen: These medicines are given to decrease your child's pain and fever. They can be bought without a doctor's order. Ask how much medicine is safe to give your child, and how often to give it.
Ask for more information about where and when to take your child for follow-up visits:
For continuing care, treatments, or home services for your child, ask for information.
- Exercise: Talk to your child's caregiver before you let him start exercising again. Together you can plan the best exercise program for your child. It is best to start slowly and do more as he gets stronger. Exercising will help make his bones and muscles stronger.
- Your child may need more rest than he realizes while he heals. Quiet play will keep your child safely busy so he does not become restless and risk injuring himself. Have your child read or draw quietly. Follow instructions for how much rest your child should get while he heals.
- Sports: Do not let your child play contact sports, such as football, while his jaw is still healing. His fractured jaw may break again, bleed, or bruise easily. Talk to your child's caregiver before you let him start playing contact sports again.
- Your child may not be able to eat solid food for a period of time. He may only be allowed to drink liquids to rest his jaw. He may need to use a straw to drink if his upper and lower teeth are wired together. Ask your child's caregiver how to cut the wire quickly if your child needs to vomit or has a coughing attack. Keep the wire cutters where you can quickly find them. Liquids may be the only things your child may be able to swallow. He may drink water, broth, apple juice, or soda. He may suck on ice chips or eat gelatin.
- As he improves, your child may be given soft foods that are easier to bite, chew, or swallow. Some examples are applesauce, baby food, bananas, cooked cereal, cottage cheese, eggs, pudding, and yogurt. Ask your caregiver for more information about what foods or liquids your child is allowed to eat or drink.
Wound and wire care:
Ask your child's caregiver about the proper way to take care of his wound or change his bandage. It is also important to know how often your child's bandage needs to be changed. Ask your child's caregiver how to cut the wire quickly if your child's jaws are wired together. This is important to know if he needs to vomit or has a coughing attack. Keep the wire cutters where you can quickly find them.
Preventing another jaw fracture:
- Always put your child in a car safety seat in the back seat. Do not start the car until your child's seat belt is fastened. Ask your caregiver for more information about car safety seats. If your child is old enough, have him wear a seat belt properly when driving or riding in a car.
- Do not leave your child alone on the bed, changing table, or couch. Place him in a crib or playpen if you must leave him unattended.
- Do not let your child dive in a shallow pool area or in water where the depth is not known.
- Make sure your child wears proper padding and protective gear when playing sports. These include wrist guards, helmets, kneepads, and mouth guards that meet safety standards. Teach your child about following safety regulations. Ask your caregiver for more information about bicycle helmet safety.
CONTACT A CAREGIVER IF:
- Your child has a fever.
- Your child's pain is getting worse even after giving him pain medicines.
- Your child's bandage has new stains or a bad odor.
- Your child's wires or splints in the mouth are loose.
- Your child cannot make it to his next appointment with his caregiver.
- You have questions or concerns about your child's injury, treatment, or care.
SEEK CARE IMMEDIATELY IF:
- Your child is vomiting and cannot keep any liquids down.
- Your child has increased pain that does not go away.
- Your child has problems breathing, talking, drinking, eating, or swallowing.
- Your child's splint breaks or gets damaged, or becomes soaked with blood.
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The above information is an educational aid only. It is not intended as medical advice for individual conditions or treatments. Talk to your doctor, nurse or pharmacist before following any medical regimen to see if it is safe and effective for you.