A mandibular fracture is more commonly known as a jaw fracture; it occurs when the mandible, or the jawbone, fractures or cracks. This is usually the result of a direct trauma to the jaw, such as a punch or impact with a solid object. The pain associated with a mandibular fracture can be quite intense, depending on the severity of the fracture, and the injury may be accompanied by swelling, bruising, bleeding, dislocation of the jaw, altered speech, and other troublesome conditions. A person suffering from this condition will need to seek medical attention immediately.
Treatments for a mandibular fracture will vary according to the severity of the injury. The mandible will need to be immobilized in order to heal properly, and in many cases, a person suffering from this condition will need to have his or her mouth wired shut — this is done by installing braces on the teeth that are then wired together — to prevent any movement at all as the bone heals. More serious mandibular fracture scenarios may require the installation of screws or plates to bind the fractured bones together. This requires an invasive surgery that will prolong the recovery period and often cause even more pain. A person who undergoes such a surgery may lose some mobility of the jaw after the recovery period has ended.
Some of the complications associated with a mandibular fracture come as a result of the treatment. A person may, for example, lose weight since the jaw needs to be wired shut. That person is often limited to a liquid diet, since solid foods will not be able to be chewed. The recovery period may last several weeks to months, meaning this liquid diet can be an extended scenario. It is important for a person recovering from a mandibular fracture to get all the nutrients necessary to stay healthy.
As with any other types of surgery, a mandibular fracture surgery will result in open wounds that may lead to scarring. During the healing process, it is important for the patient to keep the wounds clean and dry. This is accomplished by wearing a dressing of protective gauze. Should the wound become wet or dirty, that person runs the risk of developing an infection, which can lead to a host of additional problems. Pain management is usually accomplished with medications that reduce swelling and inflammation. Painkillers can dull the pain temporarily as the healing process continues, and bed rest may be necessary to help alleviate conditions such as body aches or headaches.