The mandible is the bone of the lower jaw of the dog. It is split into the right and left mandible. The teeth on the lower jaw all insert into the mandible. The two sides of the lower jaw are joined at the front at the mandibular symphysis.
The most common cause of mandibular fracture is due to trauma such as in a road traffic collision or a dog running very fast into a hard surface. Dogs trying to eat something very hard could also cause a minor fracture if the bones are weak.
In general the signs are: swelling in the area, a loss of symmetry of the lower jaw and potentially the loss of teeth in the affected region. The lower jaw may also droop on the affected side. A mandibular fracture will also be painful.
Most of the time a physical examination performed by the veterinary surgeon will be sufficient to diagnose a mandibular fracture, but further imaging via x-rays or a CT scanner will be necessary to confirm the extent of the fracture. In order to properly examine the extent of the fracture your dog may have to be anaesthetised in order to conduct a full assessment.
Treatment of mandibular fractures depends on the fracture that has occurred and the location of the fracture in the mandible.
Postoperative care for animals with jaw fractures will include a soft food/liquid diet for a significant period of time whilst the fracture is healing. In some cases, a food tube is placed into the oesophagus to assist feeding. Daily rinsing of the mouth may also be needed to ensure the mouth is kept clean.
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