Jaw fractures can happen in the upper or lower jaws or both. Some jaw fractures go unnoticed while others appear as swelling of the face or jaws. The cause of jaw fractures is usually direct trauma.
Things like car accidents or attacks by other animals are the most common causes of fractures. Jaw fractures can also be a complication of having a tooth extracted. Less common causes include oral cysts, tumors, and metabolic disease.
Lower Jaw Fractures
Lower jaw fractures can involve joints such as the temporomandibular joint (TMJ) or the mandibular symphysis. Diagnosis of jaw fractures must be made and treated based on advanced imaging with dental radiography, cone beam computed tomography, or standard computed tomography.
Skull radiographs with standard radiograph machines may add valuable information, but a definitive diagnosis requires intraoral dental radiography and sometimes computed tomography.
Jaw Fractures Can Be Stabilized in a Variety of Ways
Jaw fractures usually require a veterinary dentist to determine the method of treatment. The main goals of treatment include pain-free function of the jaws and preserving the occlusion of the jaws (ensuring the animal can open and close his/her mouth without malpositioned teeth getting in the way).
If a fracture is not repaired correctly according to anatomic alignment, malocclusions or abnormal teeth relationships can develop, leading to pain, not eating, and other health problems. That is why addressing fractures with the correct treatment protocol is so critical to your pet’s health.