Surgery For TMJ: Why It Is Usually The Last Resort

If you have excruciating pain in your jaw when you open and close your mouth, you may have temporomandibular joint disorder (TMJ). You can talk to your dentist about this, and he or she may have suggestions regarding how to treat it. Before you decide to go through with a treatment plan, make sure your dentist completes these two steps.

Step 1: Proper Diagnosis

According to the TMJ Association, one of the most difficult parts of treating TMJ is properly diagnosing it. TMJ is a condition that affects the joints in your jaw, and the symptoms generally involve:

  • Pain in the jaw, ears, head, and face
  • Headaches
  • Trouble eating or opening mouth

While these symptoms all point to TMJ, they can also be caused by other problems, such as arthritis. Before a dentist treats the condition, it is vital that he or she properly diagnoses the condition.

Step 2: Treatment Options

After diagnosing the condition as TMJ, the dentist may want to try one or more of these treatment options to relieve your pain and discomfort:

  • Mouth guard – Wearing a dental mouth guard while you sleep often relieves the pressure on this joint, which causes a reduction in pain.
  • Physical therapy – Learning how to exercise your jaw the proper way can actually strengthen it, which can lead to a decrease in the symptoms you are experiencing.
  • Ice and heat – Both of these can temporarily decrease inflammation in the joints.

If nothing seems to work for your TMJ, your doctor may send you to a dental surgeon to evaluate the condition. When basic treatment options will not work, you may need to have surgery on your jaw.

Jaw Surgery: The Last Resort

The TMJ Association reports that jaw surgery for TMJ is often unsuccessful, but that is often because of a misdiagnosis. If you cannot live with the pain though, this might be the only option left to try.

During jaw surgery, a dental surgeon will replace or repair the joint. While this can relieve the problem, it can also create further problems. After surgery, some people still have the TMJ pain, while others have different types of pain. Some people do find complete relief through this though.

If you believe you have TMJ and would like to learn more about the available treatment options, contact your dentist. Your dentist may refer you to a dental surgeon, such as Dr William H Wayne, and this is a great way to learn more about how you can find relief from the pain.