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. In other cases, surgery is needed.
If the jaw has been wired, your child probably will need to get food through liquids in a straw. Your child's jaw may be wired for about 6 weeks.
You and your child need to 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 your child.
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 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?
- Be safe with medicines. Read and follow all instructions on the label.
- If your child is not taking a prescription pain medicine, ask your doctor if your child can take an over-the-counter medicine.
- If the doctor gave your child a prescription medicine for pain, give it as prescribed.
- Store your child's prescription pain medicines where no one else can get to them. When you are done using them, dispose of them quickly and safely. Your local pharmacy or hospital may have a drop-off site.
- 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). 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 doesn't put them at risk of falling.
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 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 if:
- Your child does not get better as expected.
Where can you learn more?
Go to https://www.healthwise.net/patientEd
Enter L627 in the search box to learn more about "Broken Jaw in Children: Care Instructions".
Current as of: November 9, 2022
Author: Healthwise Staff
Medical Review:William H. Blahd Jr. MD, FACEP - Emergency Medicine & Adam Husney MD - Family Medicine & Kathleen Romito MD - Family Medicine