Broken Jaw: Care Instructions

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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 jaw may be wired for about 6 weeks. If your jaw has been wired, you probably will need to get your food through liquids in a straw. In other cases, surgery is needed. In any case, you need to take care to avoid hurting your jaw again while you are healing.

You heal best when you take good care of yourself. Eat a variety of healthy foods, and don't smoke.

Follow-up care is a key part of your treatment and safety. Be sure to make and go to all appointments, and call your doctor or nurse call line if you are having problems. It's also a good idea to know your test results and keep a list of the medicines you take.

How can you care for yourself at home?

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

When should you call for help?

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

  • You have trouble breathing.

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

  • You have signs of infection, such as:
    • Increased pain, swelling, warmth, or redness.
    • Red streaks leading from your jaw.
    • Pus draining from your jaw.
    • A fever.
  • You have trouble talking or swallowing.
  • Your mouth is bleeding.
  • You vomit or feel like you may vomit.

Watch closely for changes in your health, and be sure to contact your doctor or nurse call line if:

  • Your pain is still bad even after you take your medicine.
  • You do not get better as expected.

Where can you learn more?

Go to http://www.healthwise.net/ed

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Current as of: May 23, 2016