The temporomandibular joint (TMJ) is one of the most complex joints in the body. When it is functioning, it can allow a person to engage in simple tasks such as eating, talking, and swallowing without any pain. There are times when a problem will occur with this joint, and it could turn everyday actions into a painful ordeal.
The TMJ attaches the lower jaw, or the mandible, to the skull base. The jaw has two joints, each located on either side of the face in front of the ears and ear canals. It functions similarly to a ball-and-socket joint and as a sliding or translating joint. When healthy, you can eat and talk without any problems.
Unfortunately, there are times when the TMJ will become damaged or diseased, and in those instances, simply moving your jaw around can cause you pain. Even attempting to rest the jaw could cause discomfort.
It is difficult to determine what causes most problems with the TMJ, although those who do have jaw pain tend to have bruxism, which is when a person will clench, grind, or gnash their teeth.
There are a few surgical options for TMJ conditions:
- Arthroscopy/arthrocentesis: This procedure is used for localized joint pain that has not responded to other treatments. In this procedure, the oral surgeon will either insert an arthroscope, a tiny instrument, through a small incision or use small needles or arthrocentesis to flush the joint and insert an anti-inflammatory agent.
- Soft tissue repair: This is a procedure for those suffering from severe soft tissue damage so the oral surgeon can tighten up stretched connective tissue and ligaments. It also puts the disk back into position, releasing any locked jaw.
- Joint restructuring: The oral surgeon will smooth out the condyle and restructure the joint under this procedure. In some instances, the surgeon may replace part or all the joint with an artificial one. This surgery is ideal for those patients suffering from arthritis patients with badly deteriorating joints, such as severed disks or disks with holes in them.
What Are Other Options for TMJ Pain?
However, surgery may not be recommended if you do not have a severe case. There are other treatments an oral surgeon may elect to try initially to avoid surgery:
- Emotional stress therapy
- Prescription medications
- Physical therapy appliances
A South Jersey oral surgeon will be able to best diagnose your situation and layout the procedure that will work best for your condition. Given the severity of the problem, you must schedule an appointment with an oral surgeon if you are starting to feel chronic pain in your jaw.
South Jersey Oral Surgeons at Lanzi Burke Oral & Maxillofacial Surgeons Perform Surgeries to Correct TMJ Conditions
If you are experiencing pain when you chew, swallow, or talk, you could have a problem with your TMJ and may require surgery. One of our South Jersey oral surgeons at Lanzi Burke Oral & Maxillofacial Surgeons can make a diagnosis quickly and issue a treatment plan. Call us at 856-582-4222 or contact us online to schedule a consultation. Located in Washington Township, Haddonfield, and Woolwich Township, New Jersey, we serve patients throughout South Jersey.