Jaw Wired Shut – 8 New things you need to know on its Care

What is Jaw Wired Shut?

Jaw wired shut is a small procedure most commonly done for few conditions such as a broken jaw or jaw surgery.

The wires help hold your jaw in place while you heal.

Here are the care instructions for the Jaw Wired Shut

  1. What you need to eat after Jaw Wired Shut procedure – You need to take lots of fluids and thin blenderized foods during the first few weeks post Jaw wired shut
  2. What is the Oral Care you need to take after the Jaw Wired Shut – Use only a soft toothbrush to cleanse your teeth. Rinse your mouth with the prescription mouth rinse.

What is going to happen during Jaw Wired Shut?

  • Your healthcare provider will move your jaw into the correct position. If you have a broken jaw, the provider will guide the broken bones back together.
  • An arch bar may be attached to your upper and lower jaws. Thin wires may be threaded through and behind your teeth. Elastic bands may be placed to connect the upper and lower bars. The bands will prevent you from being able to open your mouth.
  • You may also need screws placed in your upper and lower jaws. The wires are used to hold the right and left sides in place when attached to the screws.

Jaw Wired Shut Important Care Instructions

Keep your mouth clean

  1. Rinse your mouth with warm salt water after eating or drinking anything. To make salt water, mix ½ tsp of salt in one cup of warm water.
  2. Brush the front of your teeth with a child-sized, soft toothbrush after you eat.
  3. If you need to vomit, bend over and open your lips. Always rinse out your mouth and brush your teeth after vomiting.

Diet after Jaw Wired Shut

Your diet principally should include plenty of fluids and thin blenderized foods during the initial few weeks of your recovery period

How to add the minced or finely chopped foods into your diet varies with the type of jaw wire surgery performed

It is recommended to check with your surgeon before you increase the texture of your diet.

As a general rule, jaw surgery patients should not use a straw during the recovery period. Check with your surgeon before using a straw.

Fruits and Vegetables

(2 cups or more a day)

  • Fruit juices provide the easiest way to include fruit in the diet. Include a serving (1/2 cup) of orange, grapefruit, or tomato juice each day for Vitamin C. Liquefy soft fruits or canned fruits in a blender.
  • Strain and thin these fruits with compatible fruit juice. Cook vegetables until tender and liquefy in a blender. Strain and thin them to the desired consistency.
  • Avoid fruits and vegetables with seeds, such as berries or tomatoes. Tough skins or hulls on vegetables should be avoided. This includes corn, lima beans, and dried or raw fruits and vegetables.

Guidelines for Blending Foods

For this diet, food should be blended with enough liquid to produce a thin, easily-swallowed meal.

When the jaws are wired together tightly, it may be necessary to strain the blended food.

To add flavor and interest to blended foods or commercial baby food, it may be seasoned with butter or margarine and warmed to your ideal temperature.

How to take care of swelling due to Jaw Wired Shut

  • Ideally the swelling that is normally expected is usually proportional to the surgery involved.
  • To decrease the swelling, use soft pillows to Sit up or prop yourself up with pillows behind your back
  • The most common sites of the Swelling are around the mouth, cheeks and sides of the face. 
  • The reason of the swelling is the body’s normal reaction to surgery and eventual repair.
  • Usually there is a maximum swelling by 2-3 days post operative.
  • Application of the ice packs immediately will reduce the swelling
  • Ideally an ice pack or an ice bag wrapped in a towel needs to be applied for continuous duration of fifteen minutes with short intervals and breaks while you are awake on the sites where surgery was performed.
  • Applying ice is of no use 36 hours after surgery.
  • No need to alarm if swelling or stiffness in the jaw has persisted for several days.
  • This is a normal reaction to surgery.
  • To minimise the size of the swelling thirty-six hours following surgery, it is recommended to apply the moist heat to the sides of the face or at the sites of the surgery
  • If you want to seek help on how to reduce the swelling, follow your health care provider’s instructions.

Follow your health care provider’s instructions

  • Follow your health care provider’s directions about what you can and cannot eat.
  • Follow the instructions of your physician if any medicines needed.
  • Keep all follow-up visits as told by your health care provider. This is important.

6 Important Oral Care Tips after the Jaw Wired

  1. You can brush your teeth the night of surgery, but make sure you rinse gently and carefully.
  2. Rinse your mouth with a cup of warm water mixed with a 1/4 teaspoon of salt the immediate day after surgery. Its ideally recommended you do this at least four times in a day. Do not forget to do this after your every meal.
  3. DO NOT use and electric toothbrush or water-pik at surgical sites until approved by your doctor.
  4. Use the prescription mouth rinse for rinsing your mouth. Follow the instructions as given in the prescription
  5. Avoid the over-the-counter mouth rinses especially during the entire first week post surgery
  6. You can continue your normal oral hygiene practices only if there are no surgical or injury sites in your mouth

Only cut jaw wires in an emergency

  • It is advised to secure wire cutters with you at all times. Use them only in an emergency to cut the wires that hold your jaw together.
  • Do not cut the jaw wires:
    • Even if you are tired of having your jaw wired.
    • Even if you are hungry.
    • Even if you need to vomit.
  • You may cut the wires that hold your jaw together only:
    • If you have trouble breathing.
    • If you are choking.
  • Do not cut the wires that connect to your back teeth (arch wires). If you must cut the wires in an emergency, cut straight across the wires that hold your mouth closed. These are the wires that are connected to the arch wires.

Contact your doctor if:

  • You have a fever.
  • You feel nauseous or you vomit.
  • You feel that one or more wires have broken.
  • You have fluid, blood, or pus coming from your mouth or incisions.
  • You are dizzy.

Call for help right away if:

  • You had to cut the wires that hold your jaw together.
  • Your pain is severe and is not helped with medicine.
  • You faint.

Contact your surgeon right away or go to the Emergency Department if you have:

  • Fever, chills, or vomiting that is new
  • A lot of pain or swelling that is not getting better or is getting worse
  • Severe (really bad) nausea or vomiting
  • A hard time swallowing or breathing
  • Bleeding from your wound or your nose
  • Loss of several elastics or wires that makes your jaw shift
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