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 parts of the jaw in the desired position and holding them in place for a sufficient period of time to allow healing. You may have wires, rubber bands, or both, on your teeth and you will not be able to open your mouth.


Day 1

  • Go home and get some rest! Keep your activities minimal.

  • It is recommended to start your pain medications within the first 1 to 2 hours after leaving surgery, or at the very first onset of pain.

  • However, do not take your pain medications on an empty stomach! If you experience nausea, sipping on Ginger Ale or Sprite will help to soothe the stomach. You should carry a pair of wire cutters, in the unlikely event that you become nauseated – cutting the wires may be necessary. Contact our office as soon as possible if you have cut your wires.

  • Since your teeth are wired together, you will not be able to chew solid foods and must maintain a liquid diet. Be cautious of hot food and drinks when your mouth is still numb. Utilize the Blend & Mend book that you were provided with- this has ideas and options for foods that can be eaten while your jaw is fixated. Diet supplements such as Boost, Ensure, or Carnation Instant Breakfast can be taken to help maintain the necessary amount of calories per day.  No smoking for at least 3 days after surgery.

  • If your doctor prescribed an antibiotic, it is important to start as soon as possible- again, with food in your stomach. Take as prescribed until gone.

  • Do not go home and lay flat! Keep your head elevated while resting for 2 to 3 days- using your ice pack for the first 24 hours (alternating 20 minutes on, 20 minutes off).

  • Support your jaw when yawning or sighing by holding your fist under your chin.

  • 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 that can last for several months or longer.

  • If you have been sedated, 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 the day after surgery.


    Day 2

  • Today, you will start using your ice pack as a heat pack- instructions for heating are located on the back of the pack. Use this for 2 to 3 days, alternating every 20 minutes.

  • Gentle oral care can be resumed. You may notice a small amount of blood the first day or two- this is normal. A child-sized toothbrush can be helpful in order to brush all teeth and wires.

  • Gentle swishing with warm salt water is encouraged between meals and after all eating.

  • If your doctor prescribed you a medicated mouth rinse (Peridex), you will start that today. You should swish with a small amount morning and evening as directed by our post-operative nurse in your discharge instructions.


    Day 3

  • If you must resume work or an exercise routine, do so lightly- letting pain be your guide.

  • As your swelling decreases, your pain should be getting much better. Try to limit your prescription pain medication use as much as possible. Using over-the-counter pain medications, such as liquid Motrin, Ibuprofen, or Tylenol  are a good option, as directed by our surgical assistants and your doctor.

  • If your pain, swelling, and symptoms are not improving by today, you may need to be seen by your doctor.


    Day 4 and beyond

  • You should start to see your swelling decrease today and over the following days.
  • You should continue to use your medicated mouth rinse (Peridex) until day 7, unless otherwise directed by your doctor.

  • Increased pain and swelling by this time is uncommon- please contact the office if you are experiencing adverse symptoms.


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

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