If you have TMJ disorder that has been resistant to treatment, you may wonder if your next step is TMJ surgery. TMJ specialists like Dr. Coats have a wider range of treatment options than offered by most dentists, which means we can provide the vast majority of patients with relief without resorting to surgical treatments. Still, there are some rare occasions when TMJ surgery is required. Here’s what you need to know.
Types of TMJ Surgery
When we talk about TMJ surgery, we’re not talking about a single procedure. Instead, there are a few different procedures that all fall into the category of TMJ surgery. Some are minimally-invasive outpatient procedures, while others are performed in a hospital setting. The types of TMJ surgery include:
This is a minimally-invasive outpatient procedure that involves injecting a lubricating fluid directly into the temporomandibular joints to reduce friction. There are no incisions involved.
Arthroscopy is more invasive than arthrocentesis, but still considered minimally-invasive. The joint is examined with a scope, then the bone can be smoothed, the disc can be repositioned, or scar tissue can be removed, depending on your needs.
Arthrotomy or Arthroplasty
This is an open-joint surgery used to repair structural problems in one or both temporomandibular joints, and it is performed in a hospital setting. After an incision is made, your doctor may perform disc surgery or arthroplasty, which involves removing growths and adhesions in the jaw.
Joint replacement is considered the last resort for patients with severe TMJ disorder that has not responded to any other treatments. In this procedure, either the whole joint is replaced or parts of it.
Alternatives to TMJ Surgery
TMJ specialists adhere to the guidelines from the National Institutes of Health (NIH), which recommend conservative, reversible treatments over surgical methods. TMJ surgery is not without risks, and many patients who have these surgeries end up feeling worse than before their surgery, with lasting nerve damage and ongoing pain.
We understand that TMJ disorder has a range of causes, and treatment must be tailored to the underlying reason for your TMD. Our first priority is resolving your immediate pain, which can be accomplished using one or more of the following methods:
- Spray & Stretch
- Trigger Point Injections
- Heat/Cold Pack
- TENS Therapy
- Pain Relief Appliance
- Anti-Inflammatory Medication
- Muscle Relaxer Medication
- SPG Block
Next, our goal is to find a long-term treatment that resolves the underlying cause of your TMJ pain. These treatments include:
- TMJ Orthotic
- Nite Bite Reposition Appliance
- Oral Sleep Appliance
- Decay Removal
- Infection Removal
- TMJ Orthodontics
- TMJ Bite Rehabilitation
- TMJ Dentures
With so many treatment options available, it’s rare that any of our patients are referred out for invasive, irreversible TMJ surgeries.