Oral Surgery Options For TMJ

If you have temporomandibular joint disorder and are tired of the pain, stiffness, and lack of mobility in the joint, you may be considering surgery. Surgery can help to improve temporomandibular joint disorder in a variety of ways. Each of them differ, with varying levels of improvement and recovery downtime.

Reduce Scar Tissue

One of the possible surgical options is for your doctor to remove excess scar tissue in the joint. Scar tissue is particularly a problem for people who have developed TMJ due to an autoimmune disorder like arthritis. The body attacks its own cells, creating scar tissue in the process. For people without these disorders, scar tissue may develop due an injury to the joint that caused the TMJ.

Surgery to remove scar tissue is minimally invasive as oral surgery goes. Your surgeon will create an incision over each joint and carefully remove a portion of the scar tissue. In most patients, this helps to improve mobility and reduce stiffness, as the joint is no longer filled with excess tissue that it can't properly close over.

This surgery doesn't require cutting into the bone, so recovery time is minimal. However, other than improving mobility, other TMJ symptoms may remain.

Realign Jaw

Another option is to have an oral surgeon realign the jaw completely. This requires cutting into the bone in order to move the jaw to where it should be positioned. Doing so will take stress and tension off of the joint, and realigns the joint, allowing it to open and close more easily. If any scar tissue is found, the surgeon may also choose to remove it as well.

Over time, the bone and tissue will heal, but this type of surgery has a long downtime. You can expect a recovery of three to six weeks at home following a brief hospital stay. However, the results should be dramatic, vastly improving your quality of life.

Distraction Osteogenesis

The last option is called distraction osteogenesis. Unlike traditional jaw surgery, which requires completely cutting through the bone, repositioning it, and sometimes drilling the original bone to artificial bone in order to extend the jaw, distraction osteogenesis is far less invasive.

Distraction osteogenesis allows the body to create its own new bone material. Your surgeon will make a small incision in the bone and will then insert a device into the opening. Over the next few weeks, the bone will be advanced by a few millimeters at a time, creating a microfracture. The body will heal these microfractures, building new bone, with very little discomfort.

If your jaw joint has been damaged due to an injury, this may not be a perfect option for you. Otherwise, however, aligning the jaw will take stress and reduce impact on the jaw joint, allowing you to eat and speak more easily.

Oral surgery is a good option for people who are dealing with moderate to severe temporomandibular joint pain. Talk to a dentist like Peak Family Dentistry & Orthodontics about whether it's the right choice for you.