Jaw and Facial Fractures Home Care
What to Expect
There are many types of facial fractures. Your treatment depends upon the kind of facial fracture you have. Facial fractures almost always occur from some type of trauma. Some common symptoms include, but are not limited to:
- Visual Changes like blurred vision
- Facial Deformity
- Difficulty Breathing
- Loosening of the teeth
Some of the treatments include surgery for closing open cuts and repositioning bones. Sometimes wires and metal plates are used.
For fractures involving the upper and lower jaws, they are often fixed through intermaxillary fixation (IMF). This means by immobilizing your jaws. You may have several x-rays and scans, so the doctor can be sure to line up your jaws and teeth before fixing them. Arch bars are like braces. Once your arch bars are in place, the doctor will then either wire or rubber band your jaws shut so the break is able to heal correctly. Your jaws remain this way for 1-4 weeks, but it depends upon what kind of fracture you have. Sometimes your jaws may need to be this way for up to 8 weeks. Your doctor will be able to tell you how long you can expect to have your jaws in this manner. During this time you may find it hard to talk, eat and breathe, especially if you have a cold. After the fixation is released, the range of motion of your jaw will not be the same as before your injury. It may take more than a year before your range of motion improves.
What to Do
1. While your jaws are in this fixed position, you could lose a lot of weight. You need to make sure you maintain good eating habits so this doesn't happen. Good eating helps your body to heal properly. You will need to eat foods that are blenderized. You may need to use a syringe called a Breck® feeder. You may also need to add some water or milk to your food to thin it out and make it easier to eat. You will be given a handout on eating guidelines.
2. It is very important to keep your mouth clean in order to prevent infection. You will need to do oral rinses several times a day with a solution of peroxide and saline. Although it may be tough at first, you should brush your teeth many times a day after eating and before bedtime.
3. Check your incision(s) for any signs of infection. Watch for redness, warmth at site, swelling, tenderness, or pus-like drainage.
4. Raise your head at least 30 degrees when you lie down. (Use at least 2 pillows to raise your head 30 degrees). Do not lie flat in bed.
5. Carry your wirecutters or scissors with you at all times. You will be given one before leaving the hospital and told how to use it.
What Not to Do
- Do not cut your bands or wires unless absolutely necessary. This means if you are having extreme difficulties breathing. If you get sick to your stomach most people are able to vomit though the bands or wires. You may need to turn your head to the side to help you to clear out your mouth. You should only cut your wires or bands in this case if you are choking, can't get the vomit out, or can't breathe.
- No strenuous exercise.
- No driving until ok by doctor.
- Do not drink any alcohol.
When to Call Your Doctor
Please call your doctor if you have:
- Temperature greater than 100.5°F.
- Pain that is not relieved by medicine.
- Any signs of infection.
- If you had to cut your wires or bands.
- Visual changes.
- If your wires are cutting the inside of your mouth.
- If you have problems with nausea and vomiting.
If you have any questions or problems once you are home, please call:
Plastic Surgery Clinic, Monday - Friday from 8:00 am - 4:30 pm, at (608) 263-7502.
Nights, weekends, or holidays, this number will give you the paging operator. Ask for the Plastic Surgery doctor on-call. Leave your name and phone number with the area code. The doctor will call you back shortly.
If you live out of the area, please call 1-800-323-8942.
The Spanish version of this Health Facts for You is #7037.
The information provided should not be used during any medical emergency or for the diagnosis or treatment of any medical condition. A licensed physician should be consulted for diagnosis and treatment of any and all medical conditions. Call 911 for all medical emergencies. Any duplication or distribution of the information contained herein is strictly prohibited.
Last Updated: 08/11/2011
Copyright © 08/11/2011 University of Wisconsin Hospitals and Clinics Authority. All rights reserved. Produced by the Department of Nursing. HF#5018
Print Health Fact For You