Although TMJ surgery is often used as a last resort, it can be life-altering for patients who have exhausted all possible conservative treatment options.
Temporomandibular joint disorders, commonly known as TMJ or TMD, are those that affect the jaw joint. Characterized by pain, headache and other symptoms, TMJ problems can lead to jaw damage and other complications. Consequently, early treatment is critical.
Oral and maxillofacial surgeons and other dental professionals agree that surgical procedures can be highly effective for restoring jaw function and relieving pain. Three types of surgical treatments are available to treat TMJ.
Arthrocentesis TMJ Surgery
Arthrocentesis is the least invasive type of TMJ surgical treatment and has a relatively easy recovery period of just a day or two. This procedure is typically performed at an oral and maxillofacial surgeon’s office or an outpatient surgical center.
In most cases, TMJ arthrocentesis is done under local or intravenous (I.V.) sedation. This treatment involves the surgeon inserting needles into the affected joint to inject a sterile solution, a process known as irrigation. This flushes the joint space to remove excess scar tissue and inflammatory chemicals.
After the joint is irrigated, corticosteroids, lubricants or other medications may be injected.
Arthroscopic TMJ Surgery
Arthroscopic surgery, or arthroscopy, is another minimally invasive procedure that can be performed either in-office or at an outpatient center. This procedure is more involved than an arthrocentesis, however, and recovery can take a week or more.
TMJ arthroscopy generally requires the use of IV sedation. The oral surgeon makes a tiny incision near the ear and inserts an arthroscope, a specialized tool with a fiber-optic video camera. This allows the surgeon to view the inside of the joint to identify specific problems.
The surgeon can then remove any loose or inflamed tissue or realign or suture the cushioning discs inside.
Arthroplasty TMJ Surgery
Arthroplasty is the most extensive type of TMJ surgery.
This procedure is typically performed under general anesthesia at a local hospital, as some patients may require an overnight stay. Recovery usually takes two to six weeks, depending upon the extent of treatment.
With this procedure, a longer incision is made along the ear, exposing the joint space. This allows the oral surgeon to remove adhesions, bone spurs and other growths in the jaw that are causing joint dysfunction and pain.
The surgeon also may repair or suture the discs during a TMJ arthroplasty.
At Oral & Maxillofacial Surgery of Utah, we understand how painful and disruptive TMJ can be. If you or a member of your family suspects a jaw joint problem, contact our office to schedule a consultation. The sooner we can evaluate the problem and begin treatment, the sooner we can restore your oral health and well-being.
With convenient locations in South Jordan, Cottonwood Heights and Tooele, we look forward to helping you with all of your oral and maxillofacial treatment needs, including TMJ surgery.