Post-Operative Instructions for Fractures of the Jaw or Osteotomies

Treatment received by a patient having osteotomies or for a broken jaw is aimed at aligning the parts of the jaw in the desired position and holding them in place for a sufficient period of time to allow healing. Postoperative care is very important following surgery and healing may be delayed if care is neglected. The following instructions will be helpful to you during the healing period.

1. RECOVERY

Your jaws may feel numb for a period of time after surgery. Some of the numbness may wear off over several hours, however, due to the nature of the surgery or fracture, you may have some numbness in your lips, chin or cheek which may last for several months or longer. If you have had any out-patient surgery, the anesthesia may make you drowsy and tired for the rest of the day. You should not drive a motor vehicle, operate any dangerous machinery or make responsible decisions until the day after surgery.

2. FIXATION

Holding your teeth and jaws together and immobile is termed fixation. You may have wires, rubber bands, or both, on your teeth and you will not be able to open your mouth. In the unlikely event you should become nauseated, it may be necessary to cut the wires. You should carry a pair of wire cutters on your person. These may be purchased at a hardware store. If you have to cut the wires, please notify this office as soon as possible.

3. SWELLING

After surgery, your jaw may become swollen. The swelling will gradually decrease after several days. Ice may be applied over the area for the first 24 hours after surgery, and moist heat or a heating pad used thereafter.

4. DISCOMFORT

You may experience some discomfort in your jaws after surgery. A prescription for medication will be provided that may be filled at any pharmacy. The medications will probably be a liquid that you can easily drink and should be taken as directed.

5. MEDICATIONS

In addition to pain medication, you may receive a prescription for an antibiotic. This will usually be a liquid also and should be taken until gone in order to minimize the possibility of an infection. Any other medications should be taken as directed.

6. DIET

Maintaining a good diet and keeping well nourished are a major part of successful recovery and healing. Since your teeth are wired together, you will not be able to chew solid foods and must take a liquid diet. A blender is recommended to process a variety of foods. A booklet of blender recipes “BLEND AND MEND” will be provided to take home. It may be difficult to take in the necessary amount of calories and protein in only three meals; therefore, it is helpful to eat at least six times a day. Diet supplements such as Sustacal, Ensure, or Carnation Instant Breakfast should be taken at least twice a day.

7. ORAL HYGIENE

Oral hygiene is very important to ensure proper healing. A child’s toothbrush is helpful in order to brush all the teeth and wires. In addition to brushing, gargling and rinsing with mouth rinse or salt water beginning the day after surgery will prevent food deposits from accumulating on your wires. Use of a WaterPik may be helpful, but should not be used unless first checking with your doctor.

8. ACTIVITY

Upon returning home, activity should be minimized and quiet rest with the head elevated is recommended. Do not plan to return to work immediately. At least three to four days, and possibly one week of rest may be necessary before resuming activities only as tolerated. Certainly you should not participate in any activity where there may be a chance of receiving a blow to the jaw. You will receive appointments for post-operative visits to check healing. You should make every effort to keep these appointments so that the doctor can ensure that you are healing normally.

9. EMERGENCY

If you are experiencing difficulty in breathing, fever, continued swelling, drainage, pain or other disturbing problems, you should call this office immediately at 605-348-6818. There is a 24-hour answering service after office hours which can reach the doctor on call.