TMJ surgery can relieve the pain, tenderness and headaches associated with temporomandibular joint and muscle disorder, but some patients balk at the idea.
In many cases, surgery is not advised because the problems can be addressed in a less invasive manner. For patients with persistent pain and other symptoms in the jaw area, however, surgical treatment may be necessary.
Treatment for TMJ Disorders
According to the National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research (NIDCR), a part of the National Institutes of Health, a less invasive approach should be attempted before surgery. This is because, for many patients, discomfort and other symptoms can be mild and temporary.
The NIDCR suggests ice packs and nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory pain relievers to alleviate pain and swelling, if your doctor OKs it.
Your doctor or dentist will likely recommend that you avoid overworking the jaw by eating soft foods and that you avoid yawning. The doctor may recommend jaw exercises or physical therapy, and may prescribe a specialized bite guard to wear during sleep.
Some patients may also find relief through trigger point management or alternative medical treatments.
Unfortunately, these preliminary attempts to remedy the problem are ineffective for many patients who suffer from a more advanced case of TMJ.
When Surgery Is Recommended
Most doctors and medical experts, including those at the NIDCR, believe that jaw surgery should be considered when other treatments fail to correct TMJ-related problems, if the patient is experiencing chronic pain and dysfunction in the jaw. Surgery also may be advised if the jaw joint has severe structural problems, such as issues with bone alignment, degeneration or scar tissue in the joint.
Having TMJ Surgery
Through surgery, patients are able to find relief from pain in the joint and see normal jaw function restored. For many, arthroscopic procedures are used, in which a tiny camera and tools are inserted through a tube into the joint. The joint area may be cleared of debris and tissue blocking or impeding joint movement.
If the jaw problem cannot be viewed through arthroscopy, or if the damaged area cannot be easily accessed, an open joint arthroplasty may be performed. In rare cases, a total joint replacement may be considered.
Though surgery may not be the first treatment option for TMJ disorders, it is sometimes the only treatment that works to provide symptomatic relief for some patients. If you are experiencing popping, grinding or pain in your jaw, contact our office today for more information on potential treatments and the benefits of TMJ surgery.