Trauma to Jaws

Jaw trauma is common in dogs and cats. Fractures to the jaws comprise 6% of all skeletal trauma surgery. New dental techniques, combined with standard surgical techniques, are often available to provide fracture repair without the need for invasive surgery.

Advances in jaw fracture fixation have led to much better success rates. We attended the first ever AOVET North America course in Las Vegas in February 2013 on the Operative Treatment of Veterinary Craniomaxillofacial Trauma and Reconstruction to keep fully up to date in this exciting area.

With any jaw fracture it is absolutely essential to support the fracture site early in the case with a tape muzzle or soft Mikki muzzle as soon as practically possible - see image below. Tape muzzles are simple and inexpensive. A useful tip is to use a syringe case or barrel between the incisors to ensure there is enough space for the tongue to lap water and liquid foods. Most surgical texts show this - Fossum's Small Animal Surgery page 902/903 and Verstraete & Lommer's Oral and Maxillofacial Surgery page 276.

  1. Use 1 or 2 inch wide tape depending on size of dog. Place a strip adhesive side out round the muzzle to create a loop.
  2. Remove the lop and place a second loop adhesive side down over the first loop. Neither loop now has a sticky surface exposed.
  3. Replace the loop back on the muzzle and draw marks where the behind the ear ties will go so that they do not make contact with the eyes.
  4. Remove muzzle. Premeasure four 18" strips of 1" tape. Place one strip along muzzle, adhesive side out, on pre-marked location of first loop with an overlap and fold over. Place second 18" strip over first 18" strip adhesive to adhesive. Repeat on other side.
  5. Replace on patient. Tie behind ears and assess occlusion. If too big or small the muzzle can easily be cut and bridged with additional tape to make bigger or smaller.

In the event of fractures, please contact us for advice specific to your case.