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TMJ Disorder: When is surgery necessary?


toothache-young-woman-300x200The temporomandibular joint (TMJ) connects the jawbone to the skull and is responsible for all mouth movement. When you open your mouth or bite down on food, your TMJ is being used. Surrounded by ligaments and muscles, your TMJ can become strained if you have a malocclusion (improper bite), tooth wear, or if you grind or clench your teeth. When the TMJ becomes strained, it can dysfunction. Since TMD (TMJ dysfunction) produces discomfort and reduces oral function, surgery is sometimes necessary. An oral surgeon performs surgery for TMJ when other treatment options, including orthodontic treatment and restorative dentistry, are not effective. Since every person’s needs vary, it is important to consult with professionals before determining your course of treatment.

How does TMJ affect my oral health?

TMD can greatly affect your oral health, primarily because this condition impairs one’s ability to enjoy smooth and comfortable oral function. Many TMJ disorder sufferers experience painful symptoms when opening or closing the mouth and when chewing food. It is not out of the ordinary for patients with TMJ disorder to experience facial pain and recurring headaches. TMD can also cause untimely tooth wear, too.

What are non-surgical methods for treating TMJ disorder?

There are a variety of non-surgical methods for treating TMJ disorder. In some instances, a dentist may rebuild a patient’s bite by placing restorations on worn down teeth. Sometimes, receiving braces to correct misaligned teeth improves a bite and ultimately relieves strain on the TMJ. Some patients with TMD benefit from wearing protective oral appliances at night, stress reduction therapy, and massage. Other non-surgical TMJ treatments include:

  1. Self-help including rest, ice and exercise
  2. Muscle Relaxer
  3. Splint Therapy
  4. Physical Therapy

If my dentist recommends surgery, what should I do next?

If your dentist or orthodontist has recommended surgery as a possible treatment option, we encourage you to schedule a consultation with one of our oral surgeons. At your appointment, our team will review your medical history along with conducting a thorough oral examination to determine if surgery would be beneficial. We invite patients to voice concerns and ask any questions they have when visiting our practice.

To schedule an appointment with our caring team, call our office today.