Temporomandibular joint disorder (TMJ) is a common oral health problem caused by dysfunction of the temporomandibular joint. This is the joint that sits towards the front of your ears and connects your jaw and skull. Without the temporomandibular joint, it would be impossible for you to speak, chew food, or yawn when you’re tired.
Some of the most troublesome symptoms associated with TMJ include difficulty sleeping, chronic headaches, pain in the jaw joints, and a clicking or popping sound when you open your mouth. Although jaw surgery is typically a last resort in the treatment of TMJ, it can eliminate symptoms entirely.
Causes and Symptoms of TMJ
Grinding teeth during sleep is one of the most common causes of TMJ. This can be frustrating because it’s difficult to stop doing something you’re not aware of doing in the first place. Arthritis of the jaw joint, stress, and injury to the head or neck can also cause this problem. In addition to the symptoms mentioned above, other common indications of TMJ include:
- Difficulty opening mouth wide
- Neck pain
- Feeling like the jaw has locked
- Tooth pain
- Shoulder pain
- Facial swelling and/or fatigue
If you recognize any of these symptoms, we encourage you to schedule an appointment with Greater Atlanta Oral Facial Surgery right away. One of our oral surgeons will complete a thorough examination and then discuss treatment options with you, including jaw surgery.
Non-Invasive Treatment for TMJ
A dentist’s first line of defense in treating TMJ is usually behavior modification. This can include anything from stopping yourself from grinding your teeth when you notice yourself doing it to finding better ways to manage stress in your life. Medication might also be a possibility. When these actions fail to work as expected, dentists will refer patients to Greater Atlanta Oral Facial Surgery to discuss options for jaw surgery.
Arthrocentesis is the least invasive form of jaw surgery. For this procedure, your oral surgeon inserts a tiny needle into your temporomandibular joint to release the build-up of fluid and remove debris that could be causing inflammation.
If you have issues with your jaw locking up, our oral surgeon may recommend that you undergo a surgical procedure known as modified condylotomy. The surgery corrects issues with the mandible that cause this painful condition.
Corrective jaw surgery and open joint surgery correct structural problems present in the joints of your jaw. We typically reserve this type of jaw surgery for the most severe cases of TMJ when other therapies and even surgeries have not been successful.
The final surgical option you have for the treatment of TMJ is total joint replacement. With this procedure, your oral surgeon removes the defective joint and places a synthetic one in its place. We reserve this procedure for severely defective natural jaw joints.
Ask Your Dentist for a Referral to Learn More About Your Jaw Surgery Options
At Greater Atlanta Oral Facial Surgery, we require a referral from your regular dentist for your initial consultation. If you and your dentist think you’re a good candidate for TMJ jaw surgery, please request a referral or call us in Buckhead at 404-975-2706 or Cumming at 404-620-6811 for more information.