Treating Mild TMJ Disorders
Your Guide to TMJ Surgery
The temporomandibular joint (TMJ) is the joint that connects your lower jaw to your skull. You may not always think about your jaw joint, but when it’s not working properly it can have a major impact on your life. A damaged jaw joint can be painful and make it difficult to eat and even speak.
Most TMJ disorders can be treated without surgery. Mild TMJ pain can be relieved with rest, OTC pain medication, and mouth guards. Stress can sometimes play a role in TMJ disorders, so finding ways to relax can also be helpful.
However, non-surgical treatments for TMJ disorders don’t always work. Sometimes more conservative treatments only help you manage your symptoms. In these situations, you may need to consider TMJ surgery.
At TMJ Health we want to help you get the right treatment for your jaw joint pain. Deciding to move forward with TMJ surgery is a big step. It’s important to do your research, talk with TMJ experts, and consider your unique needs before diving in. That’s why we’ve put together this guide to TMJ surgery. In this guide, you’ll find what you need to make your decision a little easier.
We’ll talk about everything you need to know about TMJ surgery including
- Can Surgery Solve My TMJ Problems?
- What Are the Types of TMJ Surgery?
- How Much Will TMJ Surgery Cost?
- What Can I Expect, How Can I Prepare, and What Will Recovery Look Like?
We hope that by the end of this guide you’ll have a better understanding of whether or not you should consider surgery for your jaw joint.
Can Surgery Solve My TMJ Problems?
When deciding whether or not to move forward with TMJ surgery the first question you may have is “can surgery actually solve my TMJ problems?”
For certain patients, yes, surgery can solve your TMJ issues. While most TMJ disorders simply require rest and non-surgical methods, there are times when surgery is the only option.
The Right Treatment Depends on Your Diagnosis
When we treat the jaw joint, we need to take an orthopedic approach. That means we need to treat it like all the other joints in the body. We need to treat the root of the problem instead of just addressing symptoms.
If you injured your knee, your doctor would examine it carefully to determine the extent of the damage. Most of the time your knee will be fine with rest and maybe a knee brace. But there will be times when surgery is the only way to repair the damage.
We need to approach the TMJ in the same way. Most of the time you don’t need surgery. But in certain situations, it’s the only option. And in these cases, yes, surgery will solve your TMJ problems. TMJ surgery addresses the root of the problem instead of just managing your symptoms.
If you’ve been trying to ease your pain with more conservative methods and those just aren’t working, then TMJ surgery may be what you need
What is the Cost of TMJ Surgery?
Any type of surgery will be more expensive than conservative treatments. The cost of TMJ surgery often depends on the specific procedure and the experience of your surgeon.
Minimally invasive procedures will typically cost less than open joint surgery. You should see a maxillofacial surgeon for most TMJ surgeries. The more experience your surgeon has, the more your surgery will cost.
Unfortunately, most insurance companies see any type of jaw surgery as cosmetic and not medically necessary, so they won’t cover TMJ surgery. Your surgeon will be able to help you figure out other options to cover the cost.
What Are the Types of TMJ Surgery?
There are several different types of TMJ surgery. The right one for you will depend on your unique needs. We encourage you to do some more research on each type and talk to your medical team in order to get a better idea of what you might need.
Your Options for TMJ Surgery Include:
TMJ Arthrocentesis: needles are inserted into the joint and fluid is flushed in. This process washes the joint out and improves mobility.
TMJ Arthroscopy: a tube is inserted into the joint through a small incision. A camera is often used to look inside the joint and small tools allow the surgeon to make a few repairs.
Open Joint Surgery: the surgeon is able to operate directly on the joint. They can repair, replace, or reposition the joint disc.
What to Expect From TMJ Surgery
One thing that will help make your decision to move forward with TMJ surgery easier is knowing what to expect. That way you can prepare and feel more confident with your decision.
The nice thing about most TMJ surgeries is that they are not very invasive. That means the risks are relatively low and the recovery time is short. For TMJ arthrocentesis and TMJ arthroscopy, you will go home on the same day as your procedure. Open joint surgery will require a hospital stay, but in most cases, you’ll only be there for one night.
How to Prepare for TMJ Surgery
The best way to prepare for TMJ surgery is to ask your surgeon any questions you may have. Ask about the procedure, recovery, or anything you’re anxious about. This will help you feel more at ease. Your surgeon wants you to feel comfortable and won’t mind helping you.
You will also want to make sure everything is in order before your surgery. Arrange transportation and time off work. You will need to be on a soft food diet for a few days, so you will want to get meals ready beforehand. Don’t forget to fill any prescriptions and pain medication as well.
Recovering From TMJ Surgery
Recovering from TMJ surgery usually takes a week or two depending on your procedure. You will experience some pain, swelling, or bruising on your jaw. Pain medication will be prescribed by your doctor, but OTCs can work as well. You may also notice a change in your bite, but that will resolve itself eventually.
You will need to go on a soft food diet for the first few weeks after your surgery. This gives your joint a chance to heal properly. Luckily, TMJ surgery has a high success rate which means once everything is healed, you should be able to go back to eating the foods you love.
TMJ Surgery May Not be Right for Everyone…But It May be Right for You!
In most cases, TMJ disorders are treated with non-surgical methods. But in some cases, you may need to consider surgery. Moving forward with any type of surgery is a big step and should be done carefully. It’s important to get as much information as possible before making a decision.
Jewell, T. (2019, September 26). What to Expect from TMJ Surgery. Healthline. https://www.healthline.com/health/tmj-surgery
Jewell, T. (2019b, September 26). What to Expect from TMJ Surgery. Healthline. https://www.healthline.com/health/tmj-surgery
Specialists, D. I. (2021, August 25). Surgery For TMJ | Everything You Need To Know [Guide]. Dental Implant & Specialist Centre. https://goldcoastimplantspecialist.com.au/news/surgery-for-tmj-everything-you-need-to-know-guide/
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