Worldwide medical and scientific journal for animal health professionals

Issue number 22.3 Dental

How I approach… Fractures of the maxilla and mandible in cats

Published 01/04/2021

Written by Markus Eickhoff

Also available in Français , Deutsch , Italiano and Español

Jaw fractures account for 5-7% of all fractures in cats and are frequently caused by car accidents or by falls from a height. Jaw fractures are in many ways very different to fractures in other areas; in particular, there are differences in treatment options when a fractured section contains one or more teeth. 

Figure 3. Fracture of the body of the mandible; the yellow arrow shows the direction of pull by muscles that open the jaw; the red arrow shows the direction of pull by muscles that close the jaw. Gaping of the fracture line and poor alignment.

Key points

The main focus when treating feline jaw fractures is to restore functional occlusion.


Jaw fractures are often only one component in a multiple trauma case.


Care must be taken to ensure that fracture treatment does not affect tooth viability.


Fracture assessment requires good radiographic technique and can be augmented by CT and MRI imaging.


Introduction

Jaw fractures account for 5-7% of all fractures in cats and are frequently caused by car accidents or by falls from a height (Figure 1). Jaw fractures are in many ways very different to fractures in other areas; in particular, there are differences in treatment options when a fractured section contains one or more teeth. Preserving tooth vitality and ensuring a natural occlusion are major factors during treatment; teeth can also have an important role in repositioning and stabilizing the fracture. Rapid, functional restoration is the most important consideration for treatment, as this is vital to permit the cat to feed properly. However, the fracture is often part of a multiple trauma problem and jaw reconstruction is not the first priority; typically stabilization of the animal and treatment for shock are of primary importance. In general a cat that has been involved in an accident is immediately taken to the veterinarian by its owner; however an injured animal may only return to the owner’s home some days after the trauma, and evidence of acute injury - and in particular a possible jaw fracture - may not be obvious. 
 

Figure 1. A cat post trauma; note the malocclusion caused by a fracture close to the canine tooth.
© Markus Eickhoff / Thieme

 

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