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Jaw Surgery

(757) 668-7000

What should I expect after my child’s surgery?

The immediate focus for your child’s care after surgery will be to manage his/her pain and nausea. These are the steps we will take to help your child:

  • Blood draining and swallowed into the stomach during and after surgery can cause nausea and vomiting. A nasogastric tube (from the nose to the stomach) remains in place a few hours after surgery to drain this blood and minimize nausea and vomiting.
  • Continue to use the ice packs provided by the hospital for three days after surgery. Place the ice packs on the cheeks for 30 minutes and take them off for 30 minutes. Do this as often as possible while your child is awake. Ice packs reduce swelling and pain.
  • For comfort and proper healing, the head of the bed should remain elevated at 30 degrees.
  • Your child may have a Foley catheter placed into his/her bladder to drain urine during his first hours of bed rest.

Emergency wire cutters should remain at your child’s bedside. Take the wire cutters home when your child is discharged. Please keep the wire cutters with him/her at all times.

After the nasogastric tube is removed, your child will be encouraged to start taking in clear, cool fluids by a syringe. A rubber tip on the end of the syringe allows it to easily fit the cheek area. Once your child can take enough fluids by mouth, the intravenous fluids will be stopped. Your child will be encouraged to get out of bed and walk after the tubes have been removed. Your child should be ready to go home by the first or second day after surgery.

After surgery your child most likely will experience temporary swelling of the lips and cheeks, as well as numbness at the surgical sites. This will improve when the swelling decreases. The swelling may last for 7-10 days.

Your child also may have mild sinus and nasal congestion, and a sore throat for a few days. We can treat these symptoms to make your child more comfortable.

Additional instructions for care at home:

The first six weeks are crucial for the jaw bones to heal well. Limiting movement at the surgical site is important to allow for proper healing. Your child most likely will wear guiding elastic bands and/or wires to help minimize bite forces and guide the bite to the new position. Some patients require a period of complete immobilization of the jaws with these elastic rubber bands/wires for up to 6 weeks.

Nutritional intake is also important to help the healing process. The first 3 days your child should only have cool, clear liquids; the remainder of the recovery period (approximately six weeks) your child can advance to a full liquid/pureed diet as tolerated. A shopping list for recommended food items and menu ideas is attached. These foods can provide proper nutrition for your child while he is healing from his surgery.

Activity: Most patients are able to return to school by the second postoperative week. However, your child must avoid strenuous exercise and contact sports for four-to-six weeks.

Oral hygiene: Rinse your child’s mouth with warm salt water at least twice a day and brush his teeth at the same time. Use a baby toothbrush to keep his teeth clean, brushing the outside of the teeth. Be careful around the incision sites which will be in the upper front area of the mouth or near the molar teeth along the back-side of the lower jaw.

Depending on the type of surgery, your child may have a plastic splint wired to the upper teeth to help guide his bite into the right location. Keep this area clean also.

What follow-up appointments will my child need?

Your child will have a follow-up appointment with Dr. Morrison each week after surgery. Some bands will be removed as the jaw strengthens. The first follow-up with your doctor should be within 7-10 days. Please call the office to schedule your appointment at (757) 467-8000.

First Day Shopping List

Things to keep on hand

Food Items:

  • Chicken Broth/Bouillon (Knorr brand has great flavor)
  • A variety of canned soups (Campbell’s and Progresso work well)
  • Evaporated milk
  • Carnation nonfat dry milk powder for making fortified milk
  • Instant breakfast powder (for example Carnation)
  • Canned, frozen and fresh fruit for blending smoothies and desserts
  • Canned nectar, comes in a variety of flavors – Kerns is a good choice
  • Variety of juices: apple, berry, apricot, orange (no pulp), prune
  • Gatorade, Power Aid, Crystal Lite – good hydrating fluids
  • Spaghetti sauce (Ragu is good)
  • Mori-Nu Tofu soups – instant healthy meal found in most health food stores
  • Mori-Nu Tofu – silken brand is perfect for blending. Add a scoop to everything
  • Cereal: infant rice, Malto-meal, Cream of Wheat, instant oatmeal – you may have to grind or powder
  • Protein powder – found in any health food store. Whey or soy are good choices
  • Yogurt – vanilla or no fruit at bottom Great for mixing in shakes and smoothies
  • Liquid vitamins
  • Canned, frozen or fresh, soft-cooked vegetables: broccoli, carrots, cauliflower, potatoes, cream corn (may need to strain but will give flavor and nutrients)
  • Pudding
  • Cream, milk – for blending, thinning and adding calories!
  • Instant mashed potatoes (Betty Crocker)
  • Instant gravy packets or pre-made gravy in a jar
  • Ragu cheese sauce (works great to replace cheese in recipes)
  • Sour cream
  • Beaudette, Suzanne (2003). The Healing Jaw Guidebook, Zip-N-Squeeze.

Sample Menus

May blend, thin, strain if necessary


  • 1 cup juice or blended fruit, ½ cup pureed peaches
  • ½ cup cooked or cold cereal blended and thinned (Cream of Wheat, thinned)
  • 1 protein milkshake or Carnation Instant Breakfast with whole or soy milk
  • MID-MORNING SNACK (choose one)

  • Pureed fruit, fruit juice, Jell-O or pudding shake, smoothie, protein drink – 1 cup

  • Meat, vegetable soup or cream (1/2 cup)
  • Drink of choice
  • Thinned Jell-O

  • Slushy, shaved ice, sherbet, soft cookies soaked in milk, ice cream, pudding, custard, thinned cottage cheese, fruit or vegetable juice

  • Blended soup or meal of choice (vegetable is a good choice)
  • Thinned mashed potatoes with gravy, soft/diced meat
  • Applesauce
  • Custard, shake or smoothie with yogurt
  • Milk, cocoa, soup (3/4 cup)
  • Protein shake with fruit or dessert added (1 cup)
  • Pureed fruit and/or pureed vegetables
  • NOTE: Soups with the right ingredients can be a complete meal!

    Beaudette, Suzanne (2003). The Healing Jaw Guidebook, Zip-N-Squeeze.

Disclaimer: This information is not intended to substitute or replace the professional medical advice you receive from your child's physician. The content provided on this page is for informational purposes only, and was not designed to diagnose or treat a health problem or disease. Please consult your child's physician with any questions or concerns you may have regarding a medical condition.

Reviewed: 10/2018

(757) 668-7000

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