Fractures of Upper and Lower Jaw in Dogs

Veterinary reviewed by: Dr. Linda Simon, MVB MRCVS

Fractures of Upper and Lower Jaw in Dogs - Symptoms, Causes, Diagnosis, Treatment, Recovery, Management, Cost

Veterinary reviewed by: Dr. Linda Simon, MVB MRCVS

Fractures of Upper and Lower Jaw in Dogs - Symptoms, Causes, Diagnosis, Treatment, Recovery, Management, Cost

What is Fractures of Upper and Lower Jaw?

Your dog’s jaw has a mandible (lower jaw) and a maxilla (upper jaw) which can be fractured in an accident or other trauma. In contrast, there are some infections and other illnesses that can cause the bones in that area to weaken, leaving your dog susceptible to mandible or maxilla fractures. Some of these are periodontitis (gum disease), tumor, cyst, or a metabolic disease or disorder (i.e. hypocalcemia). The risk of a secondary infection is great, so it is very important to bring your dog to see the veterinarian no matter how mild the damage seems to be because there could be more damage inside that you cannot see. The vet will check your dog for other injuries that may not be easily visible, as the force to cause a jaw fracture is great so co-morbidities are common.

Fractures of the upper jaw and lower jaw (fracture of the mandible or maxilla) are commonly caused by trauma, such as being hit by a vehicle or a fall from a height. Fractures can also be a complication during dental treatment or from a disease or infection. Many mandibular fractures are open fractures (broken skin) and are at risk for infection, so it is essential to start antibiotics right away. Without immediate treatment, the infection can cause serious illness and may even be fatal.

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Fractures of Upper and Lower Jaw Average Cost

From 58 quotes ranging from $1,200 - $6,000

Average Cost

$2,500

Symptoms of Fractures of Upper and Lower Jaw in Dogs

  • Pain in the jaw area
  • Swelling in the facial area
  • Drooling
  • Whining
  • Depression
  • Scratching or rubbing at jaw
  • Anxiety
  • Broken teeth
  • Mouth bleeding
  • Blood in the nasal passages
  • Unable to open and/or close the mouth
  • Inability to eat
  • Visible injury to face

 Types

  • Open fractures refer to a fracture that includes bones or teeth that have broken through the skin
  • Closed fractures are any fracture that does not break the skin
  • Simple fracture refers to a single and clean break that is easy to line up and secure
  • Comminuted fracture is when the bone is shattered, crushed, or broken into more than three parts
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Causes of Fractures of Upper and Lower Jaw in Dogs

  • Accident or trauma (i.e. hit by vehicle, animal abuse, fall from a great height)
  • Animal bite
  • Periodontitis
  • Tumor
  • Cyst
  • Metabolic disease or disorder
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Diagnosis of Fractures of Upper and Lower Jaw in Dogs

Your veterinarian will first want to know your dog’s medical history and the details of the accident or trauma (if applicable). He will also need to know when the symptoms started, whether they have gotten worse, and whether your dog’s behavior has changed. The veterinarian will do a thorough physical examination, checking for other injuries and being sure to get your dog’s body temperature, blood pressure, and heart rate. He will need to run some tests to determine the extent of the damage and the possible cause if not known. These tests will include:

  • Complete blood count (CBC)
  • Blood chemistry panel
  • Blood clotting test
  • Urinalysis
  • Glucose test (blood sugar level)
  • Bacterial and/or fungal culture if an infection is present
  • Digital radiographs (x-rays) of the jaw while your dog is sedated
  • Digital radiographs (x-rays) of the head, neck, and abdomen

Depending on the results of these tests, your veterinarian may need to run some more tests, such as a CT scan, MRI, ultrasound or biopsy (if a tumor is discovered). In some instances, there may be the need for a referral to a canine dental professional.

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Treatment of Fractures of Upper and Lower Jaw in Dogs

Your veterinarian’s main goal is to repair your dog’s jaw to normal while keeping the natural alignment so eating and chewing are restored. The best choice of treatment for a simple closed mandible or maxilla fracture are intra oral splints with a wire base and reinforced with acrylic or composite material to hold the jaw in place while it heals. The splint can be bonded to the tooth crowns of the teeth on both sides of the fracture. This type of splinting is best because it gives a good stable base on the tension side of the break, which is the best place to create a proper alignment during healing. Healing should take about six to eight weeks as long as the jaw can be set at the proper bite position the first time. Your dog may also need a feeding tube to help him eat while the jaw fracture is healing. 

If your dog has an open or comminuted fracture, surgery is usually necessary to repair or replace the shattered bones. Depending on the extent of the injury, the surgery is almost always successful and healing time is about the same as with the splinted repair. If the fracture is caused by an underlying disease or disorder, the treatment and recovery can vary greatly, depending on the condition and severity.

Periodontitis

Gum disease requires dental treatment by a canine dental professional that usually includes a thorough cleaning and scaling of the teeth as well as removal of any damaged or infected teeth.

Tumor

A tumor will have to be removed and biopsied to determine if it is cancerous. If cancer is present, radiation treatments and chemotherapy will most often be necessary. The treatment will vary depending on the extent of the cancer.

Cysts

A cyst may or may not need to be removed, depending on whether the veterinarian thinks it may cause more damage to the jaw and surrounding tissues. 

Metabolic Disease or Disorder

A metabolic disease or disorder, such as hypocalcemia, will need to be treated after the fracture has been taken care of. The treatments are varied depending on the type and extent of the disease or disorder.

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Recovery of Fractures of Upper and Lower Jaw in Dogs

The recovery outlook for a mandible or maxilla fracture is very good depending on the cause and severity of the fracture. If the veterinarian is able to align the jaw, setting the fracture is usually a routine procedure that is highly successful. If your dog has an underlying disease or infection, the recovery depends on how bad it is and whether it can be treated or not. The most significant thing you can do for your dog is to follow the veterinarian’s instructions and be sure to go to any follow-up appointments even if your dog is better and you do not think it is necessary. It is always important to follow up.

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Fractures of Upper and Lower Jaw Average Cost

From 58 quotes ranging from $1,200 - $6,000

Average Cost

$2,500

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Fractures of Upper and Lower Jaw Questions and Advice from Veterinary Professionals

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Paco

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Chihuahua

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8 Years

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0 found helpful

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0 found helpful

Has Symptoms

Favoring Right Side Of Jaw

Paco is an 8 year old rescue dog from breeder. Paco has no teeth d/t poor dental hygiene they had to be removed and was found at that time that his jaw had previously been broke. I have had him 3 months and just learned of the prior break d/t contacting the rescue. Same side of jaw is broken. Rescuers told me that vet said nothing to be done first time and healed on its own with scar tissue. D/t braking again I am wondering is that now just a weak spot or did it never really heal? Paco seems to eat alright albeit slower and awkwardly but he eats. Doesn't seem to be in pain unless jaw is touched. Won't leave on muzzle and won't let me use dropper/syringe to feed him. Shall we let heal on own again, put him down ( I don't say that lightly he is my baby ), I don't want him to go through an external fixator like a halo, what else can be done when he has no teeth?

June 11, 2018

Paco's Owner

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Dr. Michele K. DVM

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0 Recommendations

Whether Paco will be able to heal normally depends on the extent of the break, and the condition of the bone in his jaw. That is a problem that happens in small breed dogs, unfortunately, and the bone may be very unhealthy. There is also a possibility of bone cancer, which I am sure your veterinarian has ruled out with x-rays. Many small dogs can be managed with pain medication and soft food until the bone is comfortable, even if it never fully heals. I would not think that this would be a reason for euthanasia, unless he is suffering.

June 11, 2018

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NACHO

dog-breed-icon

Chihuahua

dog-age-icon

14 Years

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0 found helpful

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0 found helpful

Has Symptoms

Jaw Clenched

My 14 yr old Chihuahua Nacho was diagnosed with periodontal disease a couple years back- his teeth became loose and he has lost more then half of them over the last year or so.. the bottom front teeth were the first to go. Since the lower teeth are missing we have noticed his low jaw is starting to slowly deteriorate. He is still eating and acting his normal self and has adjusted to chewing with his back teeth- still eating his regular hard kibbles. However he recently bit our other dog in a small fight over his treat and since then his lower jaw is drooping to the right and his tongue sticks out. He doesn't cry or doesn't seem to hurt him when I touch it. I am a great dog mom but am in no position to spend thousands on surgery. I just want to know that if he is acting his normal self- should I be concerned?

May 9, 2018

NACHO's Owner

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Dr. Michele K. DVM

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0 Recommendations

That might be a painful situation for Nacho, and surgery might not be an option, regardless, if his jaw has deteriorated to that point. It wold be best to at least have him examined by your veterinarian to be assessed, and you can get an idea as to whether he needs any pain medications or antibiotics. I hope that he is okay.

May 9, 2018

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Fractures of Upper and Lower Jaw Average Cost

From 58 quotes ranging from $1,200 - $6,000

Average Cost

$2,500

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