H. Michael Long, D.D.S.

Most Temporomandibular (TMJ) pain can be managed conservatively. This may include orthotics, injections, physical therapy, or adjusting occlusion. If the condition is severe and there is no relief from conservative treatment, surgery may be an option. These are usually severe cases of fractures or degenerative conditions. Arthroscopy is the least invasive type of surgery. Essentially it is the same technique commonly performed on knee joints. Open TMJ surgery involves cutting in front of the ear to expose the entire joint. This procedure is used mainly when major work is to be done inside the joint to repair or replace the cushion between the bones or repair the disc.

When surgery is your decision, ask good questions like:

Is there any other alternative?

If I decide not to have surgery, what will be the likely result?

What are the risks and side effects of surgery?

Do you expect the surgery to leave me pain free?

What should I expect while recovering?

How many times have you performed this same type of surgery?

What was the outcome?

If when there is no choice and surgery has to be performed and you have tried ever other treatment, go into it with a positive attitude. After surgery keep the joints mobile with physical therapy and prescribed home exercises. There is a real concern about TMJ suffers who rush into surgery uniformed of the possible repercussions or multiple surgery possibilities. Consider your options carefully and be informed. Make the right decision for you not because it saves you money or appears to be a quick fix, but because it is truly necessary