Eyes Wide Open, Jaw Wired Shut: Watching Your Dental Hygiene During Jaw Wiring

Dentist Blog

It's unlikely that a dentist would have to wire a patient's jaw shut. This is typically done by a doctor, and only in certain circumstances, such as after a serious accident. The wiring immobilizes the jaw, preventing movement. This allows the jaw to heal when fractured or otherwise damaged. While your jaw is wired shut, you'll be restricted to a liquid diet. But since you can't open your mouth, how are you supposed to keep your teeth clean?

Minor Jaw Surgery

Depending on the configuration of your wiring, you'll have limited access. A doctor will generally attach metal clamps to a patient's gums, and use these to hold the wiring that holds the jaws shut. This minor jaw surgery is performed under anesthetic. Some doctors will use thick rubber bands instead of metal wiring, but the jaw will still be immobilized.

Outward-Facing Surfaces

Once your jaw has been immobilized, you'll only be able to access the outward-facing surfaces of your teeth. These should be brushed as usual. The other surfaces of your teeth are another matter since you can't physically reach them with your toothbrush. You'll need to thoroughly rinse your teeth to remove the residues of your liquid diet from your teeth. 

Liquid Diet

You're not eating solids, so no food particles can be trapped between your teeth. However, the fermentable carbohydrates (sugars) in your liquid diet can still interact with your existing oral bacteria, and lead to tooth decay. Just because you're not eating solid foods, it doesn't mean you can take a dental hygiene holiday.


Get into the habit of thoroughly rinsing your mouth out after consuming any part of your liquid diet. Plain water is fine, as is a saltwater rinse—which has added antiseptic qualities. Remember that you'll be relying on little more than rinsing while your jaw is wired—so you'll need to be comprehensive. The ethanol and other active ingredients in commercial mouthwash are unlikely to affect the high-grade metal of your wiring, but it's best to check before using it. 

Damage Assessment

You'll need to see your dentist once your jaw wiring has been removed. This is quite crucial. Although your doctor took care not to damage your teeth, some contact between the metal wiring and the enamel surfaces of your teeth is unavoidable. Your teeth must be assessed for damage, and any surface scratches must be repaired to prevent further deterioration of the tooth.

Most people will always be blissfully unaware of what it's like to have their jaw wired shut. But if you experience an injury that requires jaw wiring, you'll have to make sure that your teeth aren't affected any more than necessary.

Reach out to a local dentist to learn more.


18 April 2023

Coping With Dental Emergencies

My son was outside playing with some friends when he accidentally fell down and hit his mouth on the sidewalk. The fall knocked out his front tooth, so I immediately placed the tooth in a small jar and added some milk. I rushed my son to the dental clinic and the dentist immediately took us into the examination room. The dentist placed the tooth back into the socket and saved it. My name is Beverly Tillman and thanks to the quick work of the dentist, my son didn't lose his tooth. Since this was a scary time for me and my son, I wanted to write this blog as a source of information for other parents who are facing a dental emergency. First of all, don't panic and get to your dentist as soon as possible. I hope this blog will help to answer your questions about dental emergencies.