In medical terms, a jaw fracture is called a “mandibular fracture” as it is a fracture of the mandible or jaw bone. It is a common fracture in sports, car accidents or any face collision to any hard surface. A jaw fracture or mandibular fracture include a fracture of the bone that causes the mouth to open and close. Wounds of the mandible are often many and involve the mucosa of the mouth so that diseases are likely. It also results in the teeth being out of place until the fracture is fixed.
The mandible is a thick bone that holds a great deal of strength and force to break. Whenever someone sustains a mandibular fracture, the doctor must also rule out other major damages, such as a cerebral bone injury and a head injury with internal bleeding.
The bone is an unevenly shaped bone that forms a U-shape in the middle with a portion that goes up on either side in order to form the condyle, which is the part of the bone that fits in the socket in front of the ear and acts as a hinge to open and close the mouth. When the bone is fractured in any part of the bone, the bite is abnormal.
Jaw fractures are relatively common, mainly among young men. Although traditionally the mandible and bottom of the skull are thought to form a complete hard corner, interrupted only by the TMJs. This should mean that the mandible should fracture in two places making single fractures uncommon, but this in fact not the case, with ~40% of fractures being unifocal.
Those at highest risk for a fracture of the jaw are those people who involve in risky actions like riding a bicycle or motorcycle without a helmet, work or play in high places, engage in rough sports and engage in fights with other people. Research has shown that the prevalence of jaw fractures is much higher in males and Caucasians and is highest in the third decade of life. The most common site of fracture is the mandibular condyle, followed by the body of the mandible.
Mandibular fracture is a common facial injury. The incidence is highest in young men who are victims of interpersonal violence. Alcohol is a major contributing factor. Management involved hospitalisation and surgical intervention for more than half of those presenting.
If there is any possibility whatsoever that one or more of the displacements of the mouth is open, such as a finding of injuries and bleeding inside the mouth, preoperative antibiotics are given to protect the fracture from becoming infected. Antibiotics after the patch are usually unnecessary unless the wound was particularly dirty.
The surgery to repair the jaw fracture can be open or closed. In both cases, however, the patient’s jaw is wired shut. Metal bars for both the maxillary teeth and the mandibular teeth are attached to the teeth and wires or rubber bands are used to put the bite into its proper position. Any teeth that are fractured are removed as are any teeth with a fair amount of periodontal damage (because the tooth will likely not make it anyway). These bars used to put the bite in place are called Erich arch bars.