When it comes to your jaw, some things can go wrong that may necessitate medical intervention. Specifically, if you have temporomandibular joint dysfunction (TMJ), which is one of the most common pain disorders our oral surgeons see. This disorder affects millions of Americans, most often women, although anyone can have TMJ symptoms. You might have TMJ if you find yourself experiencing the following:
- Clicking or “popping” in the jaw
- Trouble chewing, biting or swallowing
- Your jaw locking
- Chronic jaw, mouth or ear pain
- Excessive wear on the teeth
- A receding chin
- A protruding jaw
- Difficulty making your lips meet
- Chronic dry mouth from constant mouth breathing
- Difficult breathing while you sleep
The cause of your TMJ may vary; it can be anything from having a misaligned jaw, injury to the jaw, arthritis, or just stress. It can affect your breathing, speech, eating, and appearance, and can affect your daily quality of life. Our highly trained oral maxillofacial surgeon can treat your TMJ issues with orthognathic (corrective) jaw surgery. It can alleviate the range of conditions that can impact your jaw’s function. Initially, conservative approaches to treatment are taken to remedy the effects of TMJ.
Initial Non-Invasive Treatment
- Alternating heat or ice packs on the area to relieve pain
- Avoiding hard-to-chew foods that can overwork your jaw and worsen TMJ symptoms
- Gentle jaw exercises
- Wearing a mouth guard
- Practicing relaxation techniques (yoga, meditation or deep breathing)
- Taking anti-inflammatory medications to lower jaw swelling and pain
Surgical Options for Treating TMJ
If these conservative approaches don’t relieve your TMJ pain, oral surgery is the next step in treatment. Taking into account your medical history, our doctor can determine if reshaping the jaw joint or replacing it can provide you with the total relief you need from your TMJ symptoms. Arthrocentesis, arthroscopy, arthroplasty (open-jaw surgery), or jaw joint replacement has helped many patients improve their quality of life and find relief from jaw pain.
Arthrocentesis for TMJ
This minimally invasive treatment involves our surgeon injecting fluid into your jaw joint to remove chemical byproducts of inflammation and lessen any pressure that is making the joints feel stiff or painful. It can help you get back some of your jaw’s range of motion, and you can go home the same day.
Arthroscopic TMJ Surgery
If your jaw joint, bone, and cartilage has deteriorated over time, and the damage is too great, arthroscopic surgery can correct this. By opening a small hole (or making a few small holes in the skin above the joint), our surgeon uses a scope to evaluate and repair the jaw joint damage. The joint can be reshaped and medication applied; pain and swelling may be relieved, and any scar tissue removed. This surgery is done under general anesthesia and is also minimally invasive. Healing after this surgery is generally quick.
Arthroplasty TMJ Surgery
It is a major surgery allowing our surgeon to remove bony growths or excess tissue, repair or reposition the disc if it’s out of place or damaged, or replace the disc with an artificial disc or your tissue if needed. This procedure is performed under local or general anesthesia, and recuperation takes several weeks with pain medication (it requires a restricted diet and curtailing activity). It most often also involves some physical therapy.
Jaw Pain Relief Is a Phone Call Away
Whatever the level of TMJ disorder you may be experiencing, help is available to restore your pain-free quality of life. Our skilled oral and maxillofacial surgeon is ready to help you find the solutions your jaw needs! Give our experienced team a call today to learn more or to schedule a consultation with our surgeon.