Jaw Fracture/ Maxillo-facial Trauma

Fractures of the upper jaw are known as "maxilla," and of the lower jaw are known as "mandible."

Maxillary and mandibular fractures are used interchangeably, as they refer to jaw fractures or facial fractures.

The maxilla fracture includes:

  • A broken jaw.
  • A broken nose.
  • Orbital bones or eye sockets.
  • Any damage to other facial structure bones.

Mandibular fracture is a medical emergency, and at the same time, it is a common occurrence. A jaw bone fracture is likely to block the airway. It has to be treated correctly and in time, making a face look disfigured. There is an attached risk of the oral cavity nasal cavity, and therefore, it can be life-threatening. Maxillary fractures account for approximately 6-25% of all facial fractures.

After a physical check of your jaw and face, you'll undergo a radiograph to detect jaw fracture(s) resulting from the injury. Maxillofacial radiologists – doctors who specialize in reading dental radiographs – access the presence and severity of cracks, splits, or complete breaks. A Journal of Oral and Maxillofacial Radiology report notes two types of radiographs that best identify mandibular fractures:

  • CT Scan: A special type of radiograph called cone-beam computer tomography (CBCT) allows maxillofacial radiologists to assess bone conditions and fractures in three dimensions with 100 percent accuracy. Since you might have more than one fracture, it's important to pinpoint all fractures.
  • X-ray: A lower-price option is a panoramic X-ray that can detect 86 percent of mandibular fractures.

This might involve screwing metal plates into the jawbone. Again, so your jaw remains stable, wiring your mouth closed might be required. And, again, a liquid diet might be on the menu. Treatment and recovery can require up to four to six weeks for your fracture to heal. During this time, you'll typically receive prescriptions or advice from taking:

  • Anti-inflammatory medications increase your comfort and aid in your healing.
  • Antibiotics to prevent an infection of the bone.

To rebuild your jaw muscles and joints' strength, you'll likely need to undergo physical therapy. Good oral hygiene is crucial during healing, but wires and a limited mouth opening will impair your ability to brush. Your dentist may recommend that you swish with an antibacterial mouth rinse. If you experience trauma to the jaw, don't hesitate to seek a diagnosis and treatment for a broken mandible – even if you don't experience obvious symptoms. And though you might have to wait up to six weeks before eating solid food again, it'll be something to smile about once your jaw and bite start working properly again.

Fracture treatment depends on the severity, the location, and the number of jaw fractures. Treatments can include:

  • Resting your jaw: This requires you to avoid opening your jaw except to consume – but not chew – soft foods and liquids.
  • Wiring your mouth closed: This stabilizes your jaw joints as the bones heal. And, yes, a liquid diet will make up your meal plan.
  • Avoid doing anything that requires heavy lifting, pushing, or straining while your jaws are healing.
  • Do not try to work your jaw back and forth against the wires. This will loosen the wires and teeth and prevent the bones from healing.
  • Avoid water-related activities such as swimming and water-skiing while your jaws are wired because it is hard to clear water out of your nose and airway.
  • Do not drink alcoholic beverages while your jaws are wired.
  • If you have elastics, they hold your jaw together. Over time elastics can loosen, fall off, or break. Losing a few elastics is not a problem if you cannot open your mouth. If you find that you are able to open your mouth due to loss of elastics, keep your teeth together and call the office.
  • It is recommended that you sleep with your head slightly elevated (use two pillows). This helps to decrease the swelling in your face, and it also makes it easier for you to breathe.

What are the benefits & risks of Jaw Fracture / Maxillo-facial Trauma?

The outcomes of Jaw Fracture / Maxillo-facial Trauma depend on several factors and conditions suffered by the patient in the past.

Complications following treatment of mandibular fractures can occur.

  • The most common complication is an infection or osteomyelitis (bone infection).
  • Malunion and nonunion of the mandible often occur because of failure to maintain the jaws wired together.
  • Malunion (a delayed, incomplete, or faulty union of the bones) following a fracture can occur if you cut the wires prematurely after your surgery.

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