TMJ, also known as temporomandibular joint dysfunction, is a condition involving pain in the jaw joint and surrounding area. Up to 15% of those who experience TMJ develop chronic TMJ dysfunction.
TMJ is the result of the jaw or muscles in the area becoming disrupted. Those who suffer from the condition often experience facial pain, headaches, neck pain, tinnitus, ear pain, and jaw pain.
Can TMJ be treated with surgery?
Jaw conditions such as TMJ can sometimes benefit from surgery for jaw disorders. However, jaw surgery procedures are often considered as a last resort. This is because a patient’s jaw bone may not always be strong enough for surgery.
Non-surgical treatments for jaw conditions such as TMJ include painkillers, oral exercises, and physical therapy. In some cases, those with TMJ may also use oral devices. These devices include mouth guards, splints, and prosthodontics.
What oral surgery procedures exist to treat TMJ?
Although surgery for jaw disorders is often rare, in some cases it may be the only way to ease the pain of a TMJ patient. This type of oral surgery is called open-joint arthroplasty.
During open-joint arthroplasty, parts of the temporomandibular joint are removed, replaced, repaired, or repositioned. In many cases of TMJ, the articular disc is what’s focused on during surgery.
What happens during open-joint arthroplasty surgery?
During the surgery, an oral surgeon will make an incision into the skin. Once the jaw joint is exposed, the surgeon will either replace, repair, or reposition the articular disc of the joint.
The oral surgeon may see fit to remove the articular disc from the joint should the disc be damaged beyond repair. The disc would then be replaced with an artificial one.
What can I expect after the surgery?
Open-joint arthroplasty is performed under general anesthesia. Within 48 hours of the procedure, you’ll be able to begin physical therapy to regain proper jaw movement. While you’re in rehabilitation, you may be given a splint to wear in your mouth.
The repositioning of the articular disc has been known to reduce jaw pain. Up to 95% of those who receive the surgery report improved jaw function.
Open-joint arthroplasty isn’t for everyone. Be sure to talk to your dentist and oral surgeon about your TMJ. You may benefit from another type of lower jaw surgery or procedure.