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Jaw Fracture in Adults
A jaw fracture
is a break in your jawbone. It may take weeks or months for the jawbone to heal.
Common signs and symptoms:
- Swelling, pain, or bruising in or around your jaw
- Pain in front of your ear
- Trouble pressing your teeth together
- Trouble opening or closing your mouth
Seek care immediately if:
- You have trouble breathing.
- You suddenly feel lightheaded and short of breath.
- You have chest pain when you take a deep breath or cough. You may cough up blood.
- Your arm or leg feels warm, tender, and painful. It may look swollen and red.
Contact your healthcare provider if:
- You have a fever.
- You have a bad headache.
- You have numbness in your face.
- You have jaw pain that does not go away with medicine.
- The wires in your mouth are loose.
- You have questions or concerns about your condition or care.
may include any of the following:
- Pain medicines may be given or suggested by your healthcare provider.
- Antibiotic medicine may be given if you have an open wound. Antibiotic medicine is used to prevent or treat an infection caused by bacteria.
- Closed reduction is a procedure used to move your broken jawbones back to their normal position. You will not need an incision for this procedure. Ask your healthcare provider for more information about closed reduction.
- Jaw wiring may be used to hold your jaw in place and keep it from moving. This will help the bones heal the right way. You will be given a small pair of wire cutters to use in case of emergency. Your healthcare provider will teach you how to use the cutters, and when to use them. Keep the cutters with you at all times until the wires are removed by your healthcare provider. You will need to use them to prevent choking or other serious problems until you can open your mouth.
- Surgery may be used to repair a severe break in your jaw.
You may need any of the following:
- Acetaminophen decreases pain. Acetaminophen is available without a doctor's order. Ask how much to take and how often to take it. Follow directions. Acetaminophen can cause liver damage if not taken correctly.
- NSAIDs , such as ibuprofen, help decrease swelling, pain, and fever. This medicine is available with or without a doctor's order. NSAIDs can cause stomach bleeding or kidney problems in certain people. If you take blood thinner medicine, always ask your healthcare provider if NSAIDs are safe for you. Always read the medicine label and follow directions.
- Prescription pain medicine may be given. Do not wait until the pain is severe before you take this medicine.
- Antibiotics may be given if you have an open wound. Antibiotic medicine is used to treat an infection caused by bacteria.
- Take your medicine as directed. Contact your healthcare provider if you think your medicine is not helping or if you have side effects. Tell him or her if you are allergic to any medicine. Keep a list of the medicines, vitamins, and herbs you take. Include the amounts, and when and why you take them. Bring the list or the pill bottles to follow-up visits. Carry your medicine list with you in case of an emergency.
Follow up with your healthcare provider as directed:
You may need to see a specialist to fix damaged or broken teeth. Treatment may also be needed if your upper and lower teeth are not aligned properly because of your injury. Write down your questions so you will remember to ask them during your visits.
Manage your jaw fracture:
- Apply ice. Ice helps decrease swelling and pain. Ice may also help prevent tissue damage. Use an ice pack, or put crushed ice in a plastic bag. Cover it with a towel before you place it on your face. Apply ice for 15 to 20 minutes every hour or as directed.
- Eat soft or blenderized foods as directed. If your jaw is wired, you will need to eat foods that have been blended with liquids. You will have to eat these foods through a syringe or straw. If your mouth is not wired, you may need to eat only soft foods. Some examples are applesauce, bananas, cooked cereal, cottage cheese, gelatin, pudding, and yogurt. Ask your healthcare provider for more information about the type of foods you can eat.
- Clean your mouth 4 to 6 times each day. Healthcare providers will show you how to do this. Mouth cleaning will remove pieces of food and clean your teeth. A child-sized soft toothbrush will help you reach all parts of your teeth more easily. A water flosser will help remove bits of food and particles from between your teeth. Apply petroleum jelly to your lips to keep them from becoming chapped.
- Do not play sports while your jaw heals. The fractured jaw may bleed, bruise easily, or break again. Ask your healthcare provider when it is safe for you to play sports again.
- Do not put pressure on your jaw. Do not push on your jaw or let anything push on it. Sleep on your back.
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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.
Learn more about Jaw Fracture in Adults (Ambulatory Care)
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