When To See An Oral Surgeon About TMJ?

Temporomandibular joint disorder commonly referred to as TMJ, is a painful jaw condition that is difficult to treat on its own. While the majority of TMJ cases respond to lifestyle management, medication, and other non-invasive treatments,  some cases are severe enough to require oral surgery.

What is TMJ?

TMJ is a condition that causes pain in the jaw. It is characterized by clicking and popping of the jaw and pain while talking or eating. TMJ can cause headaches, ear pain, tinnitus, and a locked jaw.

The exact cause of TMJ may vary from one patient to the next and can be hard to determine. If you suffer from TMJ, it could be caused by any one, or a combination of genetics, injury, and arthritis.

It could be caused by the shape of your jaw and/or the alignment of your teeth- resulting in a misalignment of the jaw which causes the joint to be under strain. Inflammatory conditions like arthritis can cause TMJ by causing swelling in the tissues and bone in and around the jaw joint. Any of these underlying conditions could be genetic or caused by an injury. Inflammatory conditions can also be caused by a poor diet and other lifestyle choices.

TMJ Symptoms

 While the symptoms can vary from person to person, your pain could help indicative on how severe your TMJ might be. Common symptoms include:

  • Pain and tenderness of the jaw
  • Pain in the temporomandibular joint/s
  • Ear pain
  • A clicking sound or sensation in the jaw or ear
  • Difficulty or pain while chewing or talking
  • Blurred vision
  • Aching face pain, headache, or migraine
  • Locking of the joint, making it difficult to open or close your mouth 

When Do I Need Oral Surgery for TMJ?

When the pain or tenderness associated with TMJ is persistent or you lose the ability to chew or open your jaw, it’s time to seek the help of an oral surgeon. When the condition is sufficiently severe, surgery is done to restore function, reduce pain, and to prevent the condition from becoming worse. Common causes of TMJ that require oral surgery can arise when:

  • The disk within the jaw joint has eroded or moves out of proper alignment
  • The cartilage within is damaged by arthritis
  • The bone, cartilage, or connective tissue of the joint is damaged by an injury from a blow or other impact

Damage to the disk and damage caused by arthritis can take a long time to develop to the point that surgical care is needed. For this reason, it is the persistence of pain over several months that indicates the time to contact an oral surgeon. In the case of injury, the potential need for oral surgery should be evident within less than two days.

What Types Of Procedures Can Help Correct TMJ? 

If you have sustained an injury to the jaw and experience pain when talking, chewing, or difficulty opening your mouth – an oral and maxillofacial surgeon will be able to perform the following to help you alleviate your TMJ pain: 

  • Arthrocentesis: In this initial step, your oral surgeon uses a local anesthetic and performs this minor procedure. This is done when the condition has not progressed very far and is not severe.
  • Open-joint Surgery: Open joint surgery is done when bony structures are sufficiently damaged or otherwise impinge on the ability of the jaw to comfortably open and close. In this procedure, a general anesthetic is used.
  • Bone graft: a bone graft is when bone is taken from one part of the body, or from a donor, and is attached where it is needed. In TMJ bone erosion from the condition or surgery can make bone grafting necessary.
  • Dental implants: If the damage from TMJ has caused damage or loss of a molar, this tooth may need to be replaced with a dental implant.

 Additional Treatments for TMJ

If you are fortunate enough not to need surgery or are recovering from surgery, the following treatments may be necessary:

  • Rest
  • Ice
  • Ultrasound
  • Physical therapy
  • Massage
  • Relaxation techniques
  • Orthodontic bite correction
  • Anti-inflammatory medication
  • Painkillers

Treating TMJ At Sunrise Facial and Oral Surgery  

The good news is that you don’t need to live with the pain and symptoms of TMJ. You can treat TMJ with oral surgery in the comfort of our offices! Contact us at Sunrise Facial and Oral Surgery to schedule a consultation with one of our trusted oral surgeons to help you access the severity of your TMJ and if oral surgery is necessary, or if other non-invasive procedures will do the job. Either way, you’ll be in good hands with our team of dedicated and compassionate experts in either Suntree (321-255-7724) or Melbourne (321-725-5377) to learn more about your options with TMJ. Get in touch and schedule your consultation with us today!