Are you a candidate for TMJ surgery? You could be, depending on the cause and severity of your symptoms. Surgery, though, is usually the option of last resort, when all other treatments have failed.
Dentists are one of the primary types of TMJ specialists, and they may offer you some form of corrective dental treatment as a first alternative treatment. For example, the biting surfaces of your teeth may need balancing, or it may be that you need to replace missing teeth to correct your bite. The treatment may even be as simple as getting a crown or a filling replaced, which can reduce the stress in your jaw. However, you should know that any or all of these treatments may have the chance of worsening your TMJ pain. Make sure you and your dentist are agreed on the course of action.
What are the options?
Arthrocentesis . This is a simple procedure that involves the extraction of fluid from the joint. The dentist injects a needle into the joint then irrigates the area in an attempt to remove debris and other inflammatory byproducts. Once it has been sufficiently cleared, he may then inject either a lubricant into the space to help the joint move more normally, or a steroid to help healing. The procedure is minimally invasive, and recovery time is short – at most, individuals need two days to recover from it. This procedure doesn't work for every patient, though; some patients who receive it say it did nothing to relieve their pain. If your dentist recommends this approach you need to consider it very carefully, as it is still surgery, and as the National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research believes it to be somewhat controversial.
Arthroscopy . This is a slightly more invasive treatment than arthrocentesis, although it is somewhat similar in procedure. In these cases, the surgeon uses a small camera to examine the interior of your jaw joint. Depending on what he finds, he may perform other procedures while he's there, such as stitching your discs in place if they have moved out of alignment, or removing excess or loose scar tissue. Performed on an outpatient basis, recovery time is longer than for arthrocentesis. Most people require at least a week before they can return to work. This type of surgery leaves little in the way of scarring; in fact, in most instances, there is none at all. The required incision is typically less than five millimeters long, requiring only a very few stitches to close. If you notice any type of lingering marks, they most likely will be in the form of some temporary bruising in the area.
Arthroplasty . If your TMJ symptoms can't be resolved using the least invasive forms of surgery, you may find yourself a candidate for arthroplasty, also known as open joint surgery. Not only does this treatment give your surgeon the best possible view of your jaw, it's the method of choice for the repair, removal, or replacement of the articular disc, as well as general surgery to the bone. Performed under either local or general anesthesia it, like the less invasive surgeries we've discussed, involves making a small cut over the jaw, directly in front of the ear. This exposes the joint space, allowing the surgeon room to repair the damage.
Osseous Surgery . This treatment refers to a procedure for re-structuring or re-shaping the disc. TMJ pain can occur due to poorly formed bones in the joint area. This surgery attempts to remodel the bone to alleviate the problem.
Menictomy . If your surgeon recommends this procedure, he's talking about either the total or partial removal of the disc. It may be that this cartilage is so badly damaged that it just can't be saved, and he must perform either a partial or a total removal of the articular disc and consequently replace it with an implant. The implant consists of a synesthetic material which performs the same function as the disc, preventing the joint bones from rubbing against each other.
As you can see, all of these procedures are invasive, and they should not be taken lightly. Talk with your TMJ specialist to ensure that TMJ surgery is really the right treatment for your symptoms. By trying less drastic measures first, you can save yourself a lot of additional pain.
Source by Nellie Harris