The temporomandibular joint (TMJ) is a hinge-like joint that connects your mandible (lower jawbone) to your temporal bone (skull). This unique joint allows you to talk, chew, and do a variety of activities with your mouth.
Unfortunately, when something goes wrong with the TMJ, it can cause a TMJ disorder. This disorder is characterized by pain, stiffness, or a lack of mobility in the jaw, restricting its full range of motion.
There are several treatments available for a TMJ disorder, such as oral splints or mouth guards. However, if these more conservative treatments don’t provide relief from the symptoms, surgery may be necessary.
Surgery is often used to realign the TMJ to restore normal use of the joint and provide relief from the symptoms. Depending on the severity of the disorder, TMJ surgery may be done as an outpatient procedure or may require an overnight stay in the hospital.
The type of TMJ surgery used to treat a TMJ disorder will depend on the particular disorder. Some common types of surgery include arthrocentesis, arthroscopy, and open joint surgery.
These surgeries are designed to reduce the pain, stiffness, and lack of mobility in the jaw. In arthrocentesis, a needle is used to remove fluid from the joint. This removes the pressure and inflammation, allowing for greater mobility.
Arthroscopy is a minimally invasive procedure that uses a camera and tiny instruments to examine and repair the joint. This can be used to repair damaged cartilage and other tissues in the joint.
Open joint surgery is a more invasive procedure that is used to repair or replace damaged joint tissues. This is typically done when more conservative treatments have failed to provide relief from the symptoms.
No matter what type of surgery you may need to treat a TMJ disorder, it is important to keep in mind that surgery should only be used when more conservative treatments have failed to provide relief.
When is TMJ Surgery Recommended?
TMJ, or temporomandibular joint, surgery is a procedure that is used to treat various types of jaw pain and dysfunction. TMJ surgery may be recommended if you are experiencing persistent and intense pain or tenderness when you open or close your mouth, difficulty opening or closing your mouth all the way, or trouble eating or drinking due to jaw pain or immobility.
The most common cause of TMJ pain is jaw joint dysfunction, which is a disruption of the temporomandibular joint’s normal functioning. This can occur as a result of misalignment of the teeth or jaw, abnormal joint movement, or trauma to the joint. Other conditions that can cause TMJ pain include arthritis, osteoarthritis, and jaw tumor.
If you are suffering from TMJ pain, your doctor may recommend nonsurgical treatments such as rest, over-the-counter medications, physical therapy, or a night guard to wear while sleeping. However, if your pain or immobility gets progressively worse despite these treatments, your doctor may recommend surgery.
In order for your doctor to determine if TMJ surgery is the best option for you, they will likely take a medical history, perform a physical exam, and order imaging studies such as an MRI to look for structural problems or diseases in your jaw joint. Your doctor may also use a CT scan to look for specific abnormalities or to measure the range of motion of your jaw.
If your doctor determines that surgery is the best option for you, there are several types of TMJ surgery that can be performed, including arthrocentesis, arthroscopy, open joint surgery, and joint replacement. Depending on the type of surgery you require, the procedure can take anywhere from 30 minutes to several hours.
When considering TMJ surgery, it’s important to remember that it’s not a guaranteed cure for all jaw pain, and some people may not experience any relief. However, if your TMJ pain is severe enough to interfere with your daily life, surgery may be the best option. Be sure to discuss any concerns you have with your doctor before undergoing any type of surgery.