If you broke your jaw in a car accident or another similar incident, your doctor is likely to recommend having it surgically repaired. Most jaw bone breaks, when left to heal on their own, either set improperly or take a very long time to heal, which, of course, is difficult since you need a healthy jaw bone to eat. Your surgery will probably be scheduled with an oral surgeon, who is a dental specialist trained to perform surgical procedures on the mouth and face. Chances are, you have some questions about this procedure and the associated recovery. Hopefully, you'll find the answers below.
How will the surgery be performed?
If possible, your dental surgeon will try to perform the surgery through incisions in the interior of your mouth. This is preferred for a couple of reasons. First, oral tissues heal faster than your skin. Second, you won't be left with visible scars if this approach is taken. However, this approach is not always possible, depending on the site of the fracture. If you broke your maxilla above your front teeth, for example, the surgeon may have to make an incision below your nose.
Your surgeon will be able to look at your x-rays and tell you, based on what they see, which approach they will take for your surgery.
How will the bone be repaired?
Usually, your surgeon will insert either a metal plate, screws, or both into the jaw bone in order to stabilize it. This speeds up healing time. Instead of waiting for your bone to knit together, you're waiting for it to integrate with the plates and screws, which happens much faster. And the plates and screws will at least hold the bone in place until this occurs.
What can you eat afterward?
For the first couple of days after surgery, you will have to stick to a liquid diet through a straw, since you will need to avoid putting a strain on the jaw bone. Then, you will need to stick to a soft diet for a few more weeks. Items like soft-boiled pasta, rice, and fish will be your friends. After this, you can slowly work chewier foods back into your diet as your jaw bone stabilizes and heals. Your oral surgeon should give you a specific plan for resuming your diet, as this depends, in part, on where in your jaw the fracture is located.