Jaw Fracture In Children

What is a jaw fracture?

A jaw fracture is a break in your child's mandible (lower jaw bone).

What causes a jaw fracture?

A jaw fracture usually happens when a child falls from a height and lands on his chin or jaw first. A direct blow to the jaw may also cause a jaw fracture. A direct blow may occur during a fight, car accident, physical abuse, or contact sports.

What are the signs and symptoms of a jaw fracture?

  • Bruising or swelling on his jaw, chin, lips, or gums

  • Misshapen or crooked jaw, or jaw that has moved out of its normal position

  • Missing or loose teeth

  • Nausea or vomiting

  • Pain or lump on the part of the jaw that is located below the ear

  • Tingling or numbness on his chin or lower lip

  • Trouble breathing, talking, eating, or opening his mouth

How is a jaw fracture diagnosed?

X-rays, a CT scan, or MRI of your child's head or jaw may be taken. Your child may be given a dye before the pictures are taken to help healthcare providers see the pictures better. Tell the healthcare provider if your child has ever had an allergic reaction to contrast dye. He should not enter the MRI room with anything metal. Metal can cause serious injury. Tell the healthcare provider if your child has any metal in or on his body.

How is a jaw fracture treated?

Your child's treatment will depend on the damage and the type of fracture he has. Most mild jaw fractures heal on their own. Your child may need any of the following:

  • Acetaminophen decreases pain. It is available without a doctor's order. Ask how much your child should take and how often he should take it. Follow directions. Acetaminophen can cause liver damage if not taken correctly.

  • NSAIDs help decrease swelling and pain or fever. This medicine is available with or without a doctor's order. NSAIDs can cause stomach bleeding or kidney problems in certain people. If your child takes blood thinner medicine, always ask if NSAIDs are safe for him. Always read the medicine label and follow directions. Do not give these medicines to children under 6 months of age without direction from your child's doctor.

  • Prescription pain medicine may be given. Ask how to give this medicine to your child safely.

  • Antibiotics may be given to help treat or prevent a bacterial infection if the bone broke through your child's skin.

  • Devices such as wires, elastic bands, splints, and bandages may be used to support your child's jaw. They may also be used to keep his jaw from moving.

  • Surgery may be needed to return the jawbone to its normal position if the fracture is severe. Pins, plates, and screws may be used to hold the jawbone together. Surgery may also be needed to correct a deformity or fix damaged tissues, such as the mouth, tongue, nerves, or blood vessels.

When should I contact my child's healthcare provider?

  • Your child has a fever.

  • The wires or splints in your child's mouth are loose.

  • You have questions or concerns about your child's condition or care.

When should I seek immediate care or call 911?

  • Your child is vomiting and cannot keep any liquids down.

  • Your child has increased pain, even after he takes medicine.

  • Your child has problems breathing, talking, drinking, eating, or swallowing.

  • Your child's splint breaks or gets damaged, or becomes soaked with blood.

Care Agreement

You have the right to help plan your child's care. Learn about your child's health condition and how it may be treated. Discuss treatment options with your child's caregivers to decide what care you want for your child. 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.

© 2014 Truven Health Analytics Inc. Information is for End User's use only and may not be sold, redistributed or otherwise used for commercial purposes. All illustrations and images included in CareNotes® are the copyrighted property of A.D.A.M., Inc. or Truven Health Analytics.

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