TMJ Surgery: 3 Ways to Treat Temporomandibular Joint Disorder

Oral surgeons typically view TMJ surgery as a last resort in the treatment of temporomandibular joint disorder.

TMJ Surgery: 3 Ways to Treat Temporomandibular Joint Disorder

For many patients, conservative treatment measures — such as adopting simple self-care practices and wearing a stabilization splint or bite guard — alleviate TMJ symptoms.

However, in other cases, surgical treatment is the only way to effectively overcome temporomandibular joint disorder. If you’ve exhausted all possible conservative options and are still suffering from pain, stiffness and jaw joint dysfunction, one of the three TMJ surgery procedures below may help you find relief.

No. 1: Arthrocentesis of the Temporomandibular Joint

The least-invasive type of TMJ surgery, arthrocentesis involves injecting a sterile solution into the affected joint. This process, known as irrigation, flushes excess scar tissue and inflammatory chemicals from the joint space. Afterward, the oral surgeon may inject lubricants, corticosteroids or other medications.

Arthrocentesis is performed at the oral surgeon’s office or an outpatient surgical center, usually under local or IV anesthesia. Recovery time is minimal, lasting only a day or two.

No. 2: Arthroscopic Temporomandibular Joint Surgery

Like TMJ arthrocentesis, arthroscopic joint surgery is also done under IV sedation on an outpatient basis, at either the oral surgeon’s office or a surgical treatment center. However, the procedure — also known as TMJ arthroscopy — is more complex. As a result, the recovery period can take a week or longer.

Arthroscopic TMJ surgery involves inserting an arthroscope, or a tiny surgical fiber-optic video camera, through a small incision near the ear. The oral surgeon can see the images on a video monitor, which allows for accurate identification of specific joint issues.

Loose or inflamed tissue can be removed as needed, and the cushioning discs inside the joint space can be realigned or sutured.

No. 3: Temporomandibular Joint Arthroplasty

As the most-invasive type of TMJ surgery, joint arthroplasty is typically performed by an oral surgeon at a local hospital. In most cases, general anesthesia is used and some patients require an overnight stay. Depending upon the complexity of the procedure, complete recovery can take anywhere from two to six weeks.

TMJ arthroplasty is an open surgical procedure that involves exposing the joint space by making an incision along the ear. Through this incision, the oral surgeon can repair the cushioning discs and remove any bone spurs or adhesions that are causing jaw pain, stiffness and dysfunction.

Could TMJ surgery be the solution for your temporomandibular joint disorder? The professional team at Oral & Maxillofacial Surgery of Utah, serving the greater Salt Lake City area, can evaluate your symptoms, explain your treatment options and put you on the path to relief.

Dr. Partridge and Dr. Maxfield, the board-certified oral surgeons here at Oral & Maxillofacial Surgery of Utah, are specialists in managing jaw-related facial conditions and have successfully treated northern Utah patients with temporomandibular joint disorder for more than a decade.

Contact our Cottonwood Heights, South Jordan or Toole office today to schedule a TMJ surgery consultation.