Temporomandibular joint (TMJ) disorder affects roughly 12% of the American population. In some of these cases, corrective jaw surgery is the answer. Here are some common reasons for corrective jaw surgery as well as who is a good candidate and how this surgery can help TMJ discomfort.
What is TMJ?
TMJ refers to the temporomandibular joint, which is the sliding-hinge type joint that connects your jawbone to your skull. Disorders of this joint create pain in and around the jaw, cheek, ear, and the side of your head above your ear. It’s also one of the common reasons for jaw surgery.
Symptoms of TMJ disorders
The signs and symptoms of TMJ disorders can vary from person to person. In many cases, pain and discomfort can be self-managed. For others, however, surgery is the best scenario to get relief. While the most common sign for TMJ disorders is a tension headache and jaw pain, the signs and symptoms can include a clicking sound in your jaw, aching pain in your ear, difficulty chewing, and tenderness in your jaw.
What is corrective jaw surgery?
Performed by an OMS (oral and maxillofacial surgeon,) corrective jaw surgery is used to correct a range of skeletal and dental irregularities, such as misalignment of the jaw and teeth. This type of surgery is sometimes called orthognathic surgery, and it usually takes place in a hospital, and may require a variety of templates, screws, wires, and surgical plates to accomplish.
Common reasons for corrective jaw surgery
Here are some of the conditions provided by the American Association of Oral and Maxillofacial Surgeons (AAOMS) that could indicate a need for corrective jaw surgery:
- Difficulty chewing or biting food
- Difficulty swallowing
- Chronic jaw or jaw joint (TMJ) pain and headaches
- Excessive wear of the teeth
- Open bite (space between the upper and lower teeth when the mouth is closed)
- Unbalanced facial appearance from the front or side
- Facial injury
- Birth defects
- Receding lower jaw and chin
- Protruding jaw
- Inability to make the lips meet without straining
- Chronic mouth breathing
- Sleep apnea
Do I need jaw surgery?
The first steps for TMJ pain usually involve a combination of bite plate or splint therapy and anti-inflammatory drugs to relieve pain and relax the muscles. If this initial treatment is unsuccessful or if joint damage is evident, corrective jaw surgery may be necessary.
How does surgery fix TMJ?
There are a few types of corrective jaw surgery that can be used to fix TMJ issues, and they vary depending on the needs of the patient. Some involve injecting fluid into the joint to relieve stiffness and regain range of motion, while others are more invasive with scar tissue removal and joint reshaping.
In extreme cases, a discectomy is performed to repair or replace the disc. In all instances, the goal of surgery for TMJ is to relieve pain and improve the range of motion.
Benefits of jaw surgery
If you have persistent pain in the TMJ area or have trouble opening or closing your jaw completely, you should see your doctor to start a treatment plan. Benefits of jaw surgery include:
- Pain relief
- Improvement in speech
- Improved chewing and biting
- Corrected problems swallowing
- Preserved dental health by minimizing the breakdown of teeth
- Corrected bite fit or jaw closure issues
- Corrected facial imbalance
- Corrected underbite or overbite, small chin, or crossbite
For more information
If you think you may benefit from corrective jaw surgery for TMJ, contact Arkansas Oral & Maxillofacial Surgeons today at (501) 510-1081, or submit this form to request an appointment.