Why Consider Surgery to Treat TMJ Joint Derangements?

Surgical treatment of knee injuries, athletic injuries, or because of painful arthritic conditions is accepted both in the medical community and by the public. But treatment of true TM joint disease or chronic conditions such as painful jaw popping or locking is traditionally managed less aggressively with no imaging of joint hard and soft tissues — sort of like treating a knee injury by changing your shoes.

All kinds of treatments are prescribed to alter the alignment or position of the teeth or jaws in the name of treating or preventing the development of “TMJ”. Looking for true orthopedic problems within the joint that alter the natural biomechanical function of the joint or the fit of teeth over time is often overlooked.

When treating facial or jaw joint pain, almost any dental treatment or abnormality will be tried before any orthopedic condition is considered. Because extensive dental treatments can be so time consuming to accomplish before a result known, many expensive treatments are initiated before any attempt is made to image or evaluate what actually is happening to cartilage tissues in the joint itself. Inappropriate procedures and costs for treatment without results are often significant.

Surgical Treatment is Needed when Cartilage is Damaged

If the jaw joint is constantly unstable, painful, can not be loaded with normal chewing/eating requirements, or continuously locks such that the mouth can not open or chronically gets stuck in the open/dislocated position, a significant TMJ surgical problem may exist.

When reasonable, conservative management does nothing to alleviate these problems, further investigation of potential jaw joint cartilage damage and other joint wear conditions should be performed. Remember, the cartilage in the jaw joint can degenerate at a faster rate under abnormal loads than other joint systems. At the very least, imaging of the joint should be performed to define structural or consequences of arthritic disease.

Find out about the variety of surgical treatment options for TMJ disorders. Ask your care provider about a referral to evaluate surgery for your condition.