After a Jaw Fracture

The ability to follow both the written and verbal instructions provided by our staff will result in fewer complications and make your recovery period easier. Failure to follow these instructions could result in unnecessary pain, delayed healing, or other serious complications which can negatively effect the outcome of your treatment. Following surgery, your jaw may be held together with wires or elastics. A period of 2-6 weeks is usually required for initial bone healing.

For the first 24 hours following your surgery, you should use an ice pack intermittently (30 minutes on/ 30 minutes off). This will help minimize swelling, bruising and some pain. Following this period, you should use heat (hot, wet washcloth; hot water bottle; heating pad; or microwaveable pack). It may take up to 2 weeks for the majority of the swelling to disappear. You can continue with the heat packs for 30 minutes, up to 5x a day as needed. A few minutes of gentle massage while using the heat packs can also help.

It is very important that you remember to clean your teeth and rinse your mouth routinely. You may use an Oral Water Irrigation system (such as a Waterpik™), homemade saline solution (1 tsp salt to 8 oz warm water) or an over the counter Non-Alcohol Based Mouthwash. You should try to rinse your mouth 2-4x daily, and especially after eating/drinking anything other than water. If you are prescribed an antiseptic mouth rinse, follow the instructions on the bottle. Some temporary staining may occur at the visible tooth structure (crown) and this is normal while using some medications.

To brush, you should use a toddler toothbrush (it has a smaller head) to clean the outside or facial aspect of your teeth. You can start with the front anterior teeth, and if it isn’t too painful, progress to the back teeth. Do this as thoroughly as possible. If a maxillomandibular fixation was utilized to repair your fracture (wired shut with heavy braces), you will be unable to brush the inside or lingual side of your teeth. You can try to brush them by moving your tongue along them when you are using a mouth rinse. It is best to avoid carbonated beverages, sweet teas or any drinks with a high sugar content. Dryness and cracking of your lip and the corners of your mouth can sometimes occur. To help, you can apply Vaseline or a conditioning lip balm regularly. If the wires or brackets around the teeth are hurting the lips or cheek tissue, orthodontic wax can be placed to minimize this discomfort. Orthodontic wax can be found at most pharmacies.

Following surgery, you may be required to have a liquid or soft diet. It is essential that your body receives adequate fluids and nourishment in order to promote healing. You may want to utilize a blender to help get your daily nutritional needs or you can purchase nutritional supplements (such as Ensure or Boost) at a grocery store. It is especially important to drink adequate amounts of fluids (roughly half a gallon or 64 oz) a day. You may use a syringe, straw or drink from a glass.

Expect about a 5-10% loss of your overall body weight during the first 6 weeks following your procedure. Rapid weight loss during the first week is usually due to fluid loss.

Here are some ideas to help with your liquid diet:
Meals may be blended until smooth. If still lumpy, use a strainer.
Try adding whole milk, full-fat soy milk, nonfat dried milk powder, smooth peanut butter or avocados to your blended meals to increase the caloric value.
If you don’t have a blender, you can use cold milk or fruit juice to thin puddings, yogurt and ice cream. Or you can mix broths/soups with strained baby food.

Constipation may result from a lower fiber intake due to your new diet or it could a side effect of medications. To avoid this, try to include lots of fruits and vegetables in your diet, and add prune juice to your daily menu.

Alcohol and smoking can hinder your healing process. They should be avoided until you are completely healed.

Avoid excessive activity such as running, swimming, heavy lifting, intense house cleaning, contact sports, going up and down the stairs quickly, bending over, etc. All physical activity should be kept at a minimum for at least 6-8 weeks, as this can cause bleeding and/or dizziness. Excessive fatigue can also slow the healing process and increase the chance of an infection. A gradual increase back to normal activity is the most sensible approach. Contact sports or anything where direct physical contact is possible, should be avoided for 2-3 months to minimize the risk of another fracture. If you have any specific activities you wish to perform following your surgery, please discuss this with your doctor.

If necessary, a prescription for medication will be provided at the time of your discharge. Please take the medication as prescribed until it is finished. You may be sent home with a prescription for a liquid pain reliever, which can be administered through a syringe or sipped from a spoon. If your pain reliever is in a pill form, you can crush it and mix it with 10-20 ml of water or juice to be sipped or administered through a syringe.

Swelling and discomfort are expected through the first 2 weeks after surgery. If any new onset pain or swelling is present after the first week, contact our office to determine if an infection is present. The following symptoms may be a sign of infection or other complications; therefore, you should follow up immediately with your doctor if they occur.
Cheek Redness
Increased Swelling
Increased or Excessive Pain
Foul odor from the Mouth
Fever and/or Chills
Bleeding inside the mouth (Wires may need to be adjusted)

If you have any questions or problems, do not hesitate to call our office at 814-946-5060 at any time. Please note, if you are experiencing severe bleeding or difficulty breathing where you require immediate attention, please proceed to your nearest Emergency Department or Dial 9-1-1.