TMJ surgery is controversial. While many dentists, oral and maxillofacial surgeons, and other medical professionals treating TMJ disorder can not agree on appropriate treatment, many do agree on one thing:
Generally it is thought that TMJ surgery should not be performed unless the patient has exhausted all conservative, non-invasive treatments.
Here are the types of TMJ surgery (click on each to learn about each and its recovery):
- Total Joint Replacement
- Procedures that are no longer done, like: silicone implants
- Cutting edge procedures, like: distraction osteogenesis
If surgery is considered, the patient should understand that relief of all pain might not be possible. Realistic expectations of the outcome of surgery are extremely important. Some doctors and surgeons advocate that the patient see a psychologist prior to surgery to make sure he or she understands the consequences and affects of this type of serious, invasive treatment.
A lot of people advocate for no surgery or invasive procedures at all, ever, under any circumstances. We realize that this may not be realistic for every patient. It is a natural human drive to want pain relief, and to do anything possible to achieve that. Surgery often seems like a promise of a “quick fix,” but many surgical patients say after their surgeries, “If I would have known then, what I know now, I would not have chosen to have the surgery.” It is a personal decision that one must make after considering all the options available, weighing potential benefits and risks, and discussing these items with his or her surgeon and family.
Whereas the National Institutes of Health advocate “Less is Best,” in the end, it is up to the patient and his or her doctor to consider the diagnosis and circumstances. If one thing is true about all TMJ patients, it is that everyone is different, and what works for one, may not work for another.
TMJ surgery can be a confusing topic. As always, it is very important that as a patient, you learn all you can to become informed about your health. It is much easier to make a decision about treatment if you understand the benefits and risks at hand.