TMJ (Temporomandibular Joint) FAQ

Table of Contents

 

Q.

When Is TMJ Surgery Needed?

A.

The TMJ’s, also known as the jaw joints, are complex joints because there are two of them which have to function well to remain healthy. In addition to the actual joints, we all have muscles and a disk that surround each joint and these structures must all function together to work well.

Also, the way our teeth touch each other when we chew affects how the jaw joints and the surrounding structures function.

TMJ surgery is indicated for patients who have failed conservative measures like medications, night guards (also called splints) and physical therapy. It is also indicated for patients who have significant difficulty with their jaw joints like arthritis.


Q.

Can TMJ Go Away on Its Own?

A.

The most common problems people have with their TMJ’s are:

  • Pain
  • Joint noises like clicking
  • Popping or scraping
  • Limited ability to move the jaw around and chew foods normally and comfortably.

While these symptoms do not routinely go away on their own, they can cycle between times where the symptoms are worse and other times where they are better.

Many patients can control or improve their symptoms with a well controlled and appropriate course of non-surgical management.

Drs. Jacob and Aziz and their staff at Northeast Facial and Oral Surgery Specialists (better known as NEFOSS) will help you determine whether surgery is needed to help and if so, they follow the treatment philosophy of “less is more” and practice with the least invasive modalities possible.


Q.

How Long Does It Take for TMJ to Go Away?

A.

The symptoms of TMJ disorder (known as TMD) vary in severity and duration.

In addition to surgery, the patient’s ability to follow the before and after surgery instructions and a strict course of conservative measures will help the symptoms resolve more quickly.

Drs. Jacob and Aziz and their expert staff will spend a great deal of time with you and help to guide you throughout your treatment.

At times, we may call upon your dentist, physical therapist or other medical specialists to help you improve your symptoms.

At NEFOSS we believe that our patients are best managed in a team wise fashion and the patient themselves plays the most pivotal role by following the appropriate home care instructions.


Q.

What Will Happen If TMJ Is Not Treated?

A.

Many patients can continue to suffer unnecessarily by avoiding treatment when it is necessary.

The first step is evaluation and appropriate diagnosis. This involves an examination in the office and often times the addition of appropriate images to help.

At NEFOSS, we utilize the latest technology to obtain these images.

In office CT scanning provides accurate images of the jaw joints with the least amount of radiation possible. Occasionally, patients will also be sent for an MRI which provides clear images of the soft tissues surrounding the TMJ’s.

Together, the clinical, radiographic and MRI examinations will help Drs. Jacob and Aziz make the most accurate diagnosis to guide our patients towards a healthier and happier lifestyle.


Q.

Is TMJ Surgery Painful?

A.

While all surgery has some discomfort associate with it, TMJ surgery itself is not typically painful once the surgical wounds have healed.

Our team at NEFOSS will work closely with you to help manage any discomfort that you may have. We are available to our patients to help guide them and maintain a pain free environment.


Q.

How Much Does TMJ Surgery Cost?

A.

TMJ Surgery is typically covered at some level by medical insurance carriers.

However, there typically is some out of pocket costs as dictated by the specific insurance policy including deductibles, co-insurance and any additional procedures excluded or not covered by the medical insurance carrier.

Our team at NEFOSS is specially trained to help you understand not only the physical and emotional components of TMJ surgery but will also help guide you every step of the way from a financial perspective so that our patients are well prepared and informed.


Q.

How Long Does It Take to Recover from TMJ Surgery?

A.

There are several different types of TMJ surgery. Drs. Jacob and Aziz utilize the least invasive therapy possible and the latest technology to offer our patients as quick a recovery as possible.

Minimally invasive surgery, including TMJ arthroscopy, is typically performed as an outpatient. The initial recovery is a few days and this is followed by a concentrated course of conservative measures including medicines to help decrease swelling and muscle strength.

For those patients where this surgery is not indicated or on the rare occasion is not successful, a surgery involving a small incision hidden in the ear line is utilized.

This allows Drs. Jacob and Aziz to manage any imbalance in the TMJ’s leaving little if any scar. Once again recovery from surgery involves a course of medicines, a softer diet for several weeks, ice packs and occasionally home or in office physical therapy.


Q.

What Are the Risks of TMJ Surgery?

A.

There are few risks associated with TMJ surgery but as with a procedure on any part of the body, each procedure does carry potential consequences.

There are several nerves and blood vessels that are close the surgical sites and these must be protected throughout the procedure.

Drs. Jacob and Aziz use the latest technology to help minimize the risk and to provide the safest operation possible.


Q.

What Is the Success Rate of TMJ Surgery?

A.

Success in TMJ surgery is largely based on a combined effort between the surgeon, dentist, physical therapist and most importantly the patient.

Appropriate follow-up and post-surgery exercises will help improve the success of all TMJ procedures.

By selecting the least invasive surgery and combining that with non-surgical therapy, Drs. Jacob and Aziz’s patients have a very high success rate.

The entire team at Northeast Facial and Oral Surgery Specialists are skilled in guiding our patients through to create the most successful experience possible.


Q.

Does TMJ Surgery Leave Scars?

A.

There are several different types of operations to treat TMJ Disorder.

Minimally invasive procedures like arthroscopy utilize a very small camera to allow Drs. Jacob and Aziz to navigate and treat any jaw joint pathology.

This leaves very little if any scar at all. If a more involved surgery is deemed necessary, a small incision may be needed.

We hide this incision inside of the ear leaving a very little visible scar.

Lastly, some procedures also require a small incision to be made under the jaw line and Drs. Jacob and Aziz will hide this incision in the jaw shadow and in a natural skin crease so this too leaves very little scar tissue.