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What to Expect from TMJ Surgery

TMJ surgery surgeon with stethoscope

If you are considering TMJ surgery, you likely have many questions.

What will the surgery entail?

What are the risks involved?

How long will it take to recover?

This blog post will answer some of the most common questions about TMJ surgery. We will also provide a general overview of what to expect from the surgery itself. Keep reading for more information!

What is TMJ disorder (TMD)?

TMJ anatomy Mayo Clinic

TMJ disorder is a condition that affects the temporomandibular joint, which is the joint that connects the lower jaw to the skull. Temporomandibular disorders can cause a wide range of symptoms. It is estimated that TMJ disorder affects between five and twelve percent of the population. Therefore, it is relatively common, though not as common as other disorders or diseases.

TMJ surgery is necessary only when all other treatment options have failed. So first, let’s take a closer look at the symptoms of TMD and the different treatment options. Then, we’ll go through surgeries, preparation, and recovery.

Symptoms of TMJ disorders (TMD)

Symptoms of TMJ disorder vary greatly. The most common pain symptom of TMJ disorder is jaw pain. Pain can be felt in the jaw, muscles around the jaw, or ears. Other symptoms include:

  • Clicking or popping sounds when moving the jaw
  • Difficulty opening or closing the mouth
  • Dislocation of the jaw
  • Headaches
  • Tinnitus (ringing in the ears)
  • Pain with chewing
  • Inflamed tissue around the jaw

The temporomandibular joint is a complex joint and can create intense pain. It moves forward and backward, side to side, and up and down. Its job is to chew, tear, and grind our food. Because of the significant neurology associated with the joint, symptoms can be substantial.

Common causes of TMJ (Temporomandibular Joint) dysfunction?

There are many potential causes of TMJ dysfunction. Some common causes include:

  • Trauma to the jaw or head
  • Misalignment of the teeth or jaws
  • Arthritis in the temporomandibular joint
  • Clenching or grinding of the teeth (bruxism)
  • Stress
  • Irritation of the trigeminal nerve
  • Arthritis

The trigeminal nerve controls the muscles that move the TMJ. This nerve is associated with our sympathetic nervous system, or our “fight or flight” response. This is otherwise known as our “stress response.” People with bruxism, clenching, or teeth grinding describe this as a stress response.

The cervical spine, or neck, also plays a role in the function of the TMJ. Studies also indicate a strong association between instability in the neck and TMJ dysfunction. Much of this may be a product of our current lifestyle that promotes sitting and forward head position.

Man at computer with bad posture

Prolonged sitting at a computer, desk, or with your phone can lead to a forward head posture that puts increased stress on the bottom part of the jaw.

Treatment options for TMJ (jaw joint) dysfunction

There is promising news for TMJ dysfunction. Conservative treatments that include massage, physical therapy, chiropractic, and oral splints can be very effective.

Pain relievers and exercises to improve range of motion are also recommended. Here are some common conservative treatments:

Ice/cold therapy

Applying ice to the affected area can help reduce inflammation and pain.

Moist heat therapy

Applying moist heat to the affected area can help relax the muscles and reduce pain.

Oral splints or mouth guards

These devices can help position the jaw correctly and prevent teeth from grinding.

Muscle relaxants

Muscle relaxants can help to relieve pain and tension in the jaw muscles. They may also be used to help prevent clenching and grinding of the teeth. Talk to your doctor about your concerns and ask if muscle relaxants will be used. This can help put your mind at ease and allow you to focus on healing.

Anti-inflammatory medication

There are several different types of anti-inflammatory medications that can be used for TMJ pain. The most common type is ibuprofen, which is an over-the-counter medication. Other types of anti-inflammatory medicines that may be used include aspirin, celecoxib, diclofenac,

and naproxen. These medications can be taken orally or injected into the joint. Many people prefer natural pain remedies for pain relief.

Stress management

Stress management can help reduce stress and muscle tension. This may include relaxation techniques such as yoga, meditation, and deep breathing exercises.

Botox

Botox is a type of toxin that temporarily relax the muscles around the jaw. This can help reduce pain and tension in the jaw muscles. Botox injections are usually given every three to six months. However, there are several potential side effects associated with Botox, so you must talk to your doctor about any concerns you may have.

Exercises 

Exercises that focus on strengthening the jaw muscles can help reduce pain and tension. Jaw exercises may also help to prevent clenching and grinding of the teeth.

Several exercises can strengthen and stretch the muscles, and TMJ and your doctor or physical therapist can help you find the ones that are right for you.

Types of surgery are there for jaw pain.

Surgical treatments for TMJ are reserved for those with severe symptoms. TMJ surgeries are usually performed by an oral surgeon or oral and maxillofacial surgeon, who are doctors specializing in surgeries of the face, mouth, and jaws.

These surgeons typically complete four years of undergrad, followed by four years of dental school. They then complete two to six years of residency training in oral and maxillofacial surgery.

During their residency, they learn how to perform various types of TMJ surgery and manage TMJ disorders medically. If you are considering TMJ surgery, be sure to consult with an experienced oral and maxillofacial surgeon to discuss your options.

Types of TMJ Surgery

There are several types of TMJ surgery, each with its benefits and risks. We will discuss the different types of TMJ surgery and what each entails. We will also discuss the pros and cons of each type of surgery so that you can decide which type is right for you.

Arthroscopy

Arthroscopy is a minimally invasive procedure assessing damage to the temporomandibular joint (TMJ).

An arthroscopy inserts a small camera into the joint through a small incision. This allows the surgeon to see the damage and assess whether or not surgery is needed. In many cases, arthroscopy can be used to repair damage to the TMJ and provide relief from pain. However, in some cases, more extensive surgery may be necessary.

Oral and maxillofacial surgeons are specially trained in the surgical procedures needed to treat conditions of the TMJ. As such, they can provide comprehensive care for patients with this condition.

Arthroplasty

Arthroplasty is a type of surgery that is used to repair damage to the TMJ. This procedure involves the removal of damaged bone and cartilage and removes inflamed tissue from the joint. In some cases, artificial implants may be used to replace the damaged tissue.

Arthroplasty can be performed using either open or endoscopic techniques. Open arthroplasty involves making an incision in the skin over the joint. Endoscopic arthroplasty uses small instruments that are inserted through tiny incisions.

This surgery is less invasive and often results in less postoperative pain and swelling. In addition, both open and endoscopic arthroplasty are effective procedures that can provide long-term relief from TMJ pain.

Osteotomy

Osteotomy is a type of TMJ surgery used to correct severe TMJ disorders. The surgery involves cutting bone growth and repositioning the bone to realign the joint. This can provide significant pain relief for patients who suffer from TMJ disorders.

In addition, an osteotomy can help improve the joint’s function and prevent further damage. The surgery is usually performed as an outpatient procedure, and most patients can return home the same day.

Recovery from TMJ surgery can take several weeks, but most patients experience a significant improvement in their symptoms.

Fusion

Fusion surgery is a treatment option for severe TMJ disorders. This surgery aims to stabilize the joint by fusing the bones together. This can help to relieve pain and improve function. Fusion surgery is typically only considered when other treatments, such as medication or physical therapy, fail to provide relief.

It is important to note that fusion surgery is a major procedure and is not always successful in relieving symptoms. As a result, it is important to discuss all of the risks and benefits with your doctor before deciding if this surgery is right for you.

Recovery from TMJ surgery

TMJ surgery is typically done to correct severe TMJ disorders that are causing pain or affecting jaw function. The goal of the surgery is to relieve pain and improve jaw function. Recovery time from TMJ surgery can vary depending on the extent of the surgery and the individual’s overall health.

However, some general things can be expected during recovery. For the first few days after surgery, it is normal to experience some swelling and bruise around the surgical site. Pain and stiffness in the jaw are also common and may be controlled with pain medication.

It is important to follow any instructions from your surgeon regarding activity and diet restrictions to limit your recovery time. Most people can return to work and other normal activities within a week, but it may take several months to fully recover.

Diet

When you have TMJ surgery, you must follow a special diet during your recovery period. The food you eat should be soft and easy to chew, as you will likely be sore and swollen after the surgery. You may want to start with smoothies and soups and then progress to softer foods like yogurt, applesauce, oatmeal, potatoes, or chicken.

Avoid fatty foods, as they can worsen TMJ symptoms. Your doctor can tell you the best way to incorporate TMJ-friendly foods into your diet.

In addition, the surgery can take up to eight weeks to recover from, so it is important to take things slowly and eat small amounts throughout the day rather than large meals at dinner. Following these guidelines can help ensure a successful TMJ surgery recovery.

Healing

TMJ surgery is a serious operation that requires be done by a qualified surgeon. You will be given specific instructions on how to care for your stitches and when to remove the bandages. It is important to follow these instructions carefully to ensure a successful recovery.

After TMJ surgery, you can expect swelling and bruising around the operated area. Applying ice packs can help to reduce this swelling. You may also need to use more pillows during rest to keep your head elevated and reduce headaches. Again, following your surgeon’s instructions carefully will help you to recover quickly and safely from TMJ surgery.

Frequently Asked Questions

How much does lock jaw surgery cost?

The cost of lockjaw surgery can vary depending on the extent of the surgery and the individual’s overall health. However, it is typically a very expensive procedure and can be up to $20,000 without insurance coverage.

How long is recovery from TMJ surgery?

Recovery from TMJ surgery can take several weeks, but most patients experience a significant improvement in their symptoms. However, following your surgeon’s instructions carefully during recovery is important to ensure a successful outcome.

Is TMJ surgery painful?

TMJ surgery is a serious operation that requires be done by a qualified surgeon. You will be given specific instructions on how to care for your stitches and when to remove the bandages. It is important to follow these instructions carefully to ensure a successful recovery.

After TMJ surgery, you can expect swelling and bruising around the operated area. Applying ice packs can help to reduce this swelling. You may also need to use more pillows during rest to keep your head elevated and reduce headaches.

How successful is TMJ surgery?

TMJ surgery is a treatment option for severe TMJ disorders that can help to relieve pain and improve jaw function. Recovery from the surgery can take several weeks, but most patients experience a significant improvement in their symptoms.

Can the TMJ disk be replaced?

Yes, the TMJ disk can be replaced with a prosthetic during surgery. However, this is typically only done in cases where the patient has a very severe TMJ disorder, and other treatments have not been successful.

What is condylotomy surgery?

Condylotomy is a type of TMJ surgery involving cutting the bones around the joint to improve alignment and function. This is typically only done in cases where the patient has a very severe TMJ disorder, and other treatments have not been successful.

Can you work after TMJ surgery?

Most patients must take a few weeks off from work after TMJ surgery. However, this will vary depending on the extent of the surgery and the individual’s overall health.

Conclusion

TMJ surgery is a treatment option for severe TMJ disorders that can help to relieve pain and improve jaw function. Recovery from the surgery can take several weeks, but most patients experience a significant improvement in their symptoms. However, following your surgeon’s instructions carefully during recovery is important to ensure a successful outcome.

If you are considering TMJ surgery, discuss the risks and benefits with your doctor to ensure that it is the right treatment option for you.

Thank you for reading! We hope this blog post has helped inform you about what to expect from TMJ surgery.

This blog may contain affiliate links. If you click on a link and make a purchase, we may receive a commission at no extra cost to you. This does not influence our opinion of the product or service in any way. We only recommend products and services that we believe will benefit our readers.

This blog is for informational purposes only and does not constitute medical advice. The information contained herein should not be used to diagnose or treat any health condition or disease without consulting with a qualified healthcare provider.

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