TMJ Surgery

The temporomandibular joint is the area where the jaw meets the skull.  These joints are are some of the most used in the body.  When they cause pain or limit function, they can severely impact a persons overall quality of life. 

We are here to help. 

Did you know that TMJ problems are often exacerbated by stress? It is not uncommon for people under chronic or significant stress to clench their teeth worsening pre-existing symptoms. By adopting stress-minimizing habits, it may be possible to reduce the severity of TMJ problems and prevent them from worsening.

A TMJ disorder is something that interrupts the normal functioning of your jaw joints.  This definition includes a broad variety of things as this area in the human body has complex anatomy and function.  Millions of people suffer from TMJ disorders but fortunately most recover with conservative interventions.   For those patients that experience persistent pain or limited function a further evaluation by a specialist is warranted. 

The most common symptom that drives treatment is pain. This is because pain occurs with functions that are central to our lives.  Many people notice worsening of their pain with speaking, chewing, swallowing, or yawning.  The location of pain can be variable, but locations include the jaw joints, jaw muscles, neck, ear, or teeth. Other symptoms include limited mechanical movement of the jaw.  This can be limited opening, crooked opening, locking of the jaw, or even chronic dislocation.  Other symptoms include headaches, ringing in the ears, swelling in front of the ear, and changing in the way your teeth match when your mouth is closed.   

Luckily most people respond to conservative measures such as jaw rest (not chewing), massage, or mild pain relievers.  After a few weeks, if those measures do not improve the situation, prescription medications, physical therapy, or dental splints might help.  These treatments are usually prescribed by your primary care doctor, general dentist or ENT specialist.   A small percentage of people need further intervention and surgery is a consideration. 

 We primarily offer surgical solutions to your TMJ problems but are eager to recommend nonsurgical techniques if those are most appropriate. 

Please view our surgical solutions on our videos page.

Surgery is usually reserved as a last line treatment for many TMJ disorders.  There are some disorders where this is not true.  Here are some situations where you should visit us first for treatment:

1. Ankylosis – fusion of your jaw to your skull

2. Tumors – some benign tumors form in the jaw joint. These include osteochondromas, synovial chondromatosis, pigmented villonodular synovitis, or benign jaw cysts that include the condyle

3. Failed TMJ replacement device

4. Fracture – this is particularly true in fracture dislocations

5. Development abnormality – things such as Hemifacial Microsomia, Condylar Hyperplasia or a patent foramen of Huschke

6. Acute closed lock – this is a jaw joint that locks closed suddenly.  Arthrocentesis is a minimally invasive solution to this and can be done in an office setting with relatively little risk. 

Here is a link to cartoon demonstrations of the various surgical techniques.