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Broken Jaw in Children: Care Instructions

Your Care Instructions

A broken jaw is a break, or fracture, of the jaw bone. In some cases, a doctor may wire the upper and lower teeth together to hold the jaw in place. Your child's jaw may be wired for about 6 weeks. If the jaw has been wired, your child probably will need to get his or her food through liquids in a straw. In other cases, surgery is needed. In any case, you and your child must take care to protect the jaw while it is healing.

Healthy habits can help your child heal. Give your child a variety of healthy foods. And don't smoke around him or her.

Follow-up care is a key part of your child's treatment and safety. Be sure to make and go to all appointments, and call your doctor or nurse advice line (811 in most provinces and territories) if your child is having problems. It's also a good idea to know your child's test results and keep a list of the medicines your child takes.

How can you care for your child at home?

  • Give pain medicines exactly as directed.
    • If the doctor gave your child a prescription medicine for pain, give it as prescribed.
    • If your child is not taking a prescription pain medicine, ask the doctor if your child can take an over-the-counter medicine.
  • If the doctor prescribed antibiotics, give them to your child as directed. Do not stop giving them just because your child feels better. Your child needs to take the full course of antibiotics.
  • Keep a small pair of wire cutters with your child for emergencies. Use them to cut the wires if your child chokes, vomits, or has trouble breathing.
  • Put ice or a cold pack on your child's jaw for 10 to 20 minutes at a time. Try to do this every 1 to 2 hours for the next 3 days (when your child is awake) or until the swelling goes down. Put a thin cloth between the ice and your child's skin.
  • Follow the advice of the doctor about what your child can eat. Your child may be able to chew a soft diet or may have to drink meals through a straw.
  • Help your child avoid any activity that might reinjure the jaw. Your child can take part in exercise that will not risk a fall, such as riding a stationary bike.

When should you call for help?

Call 911 anytime you think your child may need emergency care. For example, call if:

  • Your child has trouble breathing.

Call your doctor or nurse advice line now or seek immediate medical care if:

  • Your child has signs of infection, such as:
    • Increased pain, swelling, warmth, or redness.
    • Red streaks leading from the area.
    • Pus draining from the area.
    • A fever.
  • Your child has trouble swallowing.
  • Your child's mouth is bleeding.
  • Your child has new or worse pain.

Watch closely for changes in your child's health, and be sure to contact your doctor or nurse advice line if:

  • Your child does not get better as expected.

Where can you learn more?

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Care instructions adapted under license by your healthcare professional. If you have questions about a medical condition or this instruction, always ask your healthcare professional. Healthwise, Incorporated disclaims any warranty or liability for your use of this information.