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What are the Pros and Cons of Jaw Surgery for TMJ?

By Erin J. Hill
Updated Mar 03, 2024
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Temporal mandibular joint dysfunction rarely requires invasive treatments, but some patients may benefit from jaw surgery for TMJ. The main benefit is that it is an effective method for alleviating severe pain in those who have tried other treatments with no success. Surgery is generally saved as a last resort because there are risks associated with any type of operation. Infections, damage to the jaw, and negative reactions to anesthesia are all risks which may occur during surgery for TMJ.

The use of surgery in the treatment of TMJ is rarely used until all other options have been exhausted. The operation can be very painful and requires a long recovery with much more pain than less invasive remedies. Patients are typically given a mouth splint or brace to alleviate pain and discomfort associated with TMJ before surgery is attempted.

Benefits of jaw surgery for TMJ include lessened pain and stiffness for many patients. Those who undergo surgery normally have a severe case of the condition and have not been helped by conventional methods of treatment. Although an operation is not typically necessary for most patients, for those who require surgery it can be their last chance of getting relief from troubling symptoms.

For most individuals, the downsides of jaw surgery for TMJ outweigh the benefits. Any surgery comes with the risk of serious complications. The most common serious side effects of surgery include infection at the incision site, reactions to anesthesia, and nerve damage in the jaw. Sometimes patients who have an underlying medical condition will have additional serious reactions. These can include heart attack or cardiac arrest. For this reason, patients should be thoroughly tested before undergoing surgery for TMJ.

Before undergoing jaw surgery for TMJ patients should be made aware of all the risks. They should also discuss their other options with their doctors to determine the best treatment options. Additional options for TMJ pain can include braces, meditation to reduce stress, splints, mouth guards, and pain medication. These other options should be attempted for several months before considering surgery in most cases. Those who are experiencing mild pain may not be eligible for surgery.

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Discussion Comments
By Talentryto — On May 01, 2014

@rundocuri- I agree with you and this article. Surgery for tmj definitely should be a last resort if nothing else helps ease the discomfort.

I have tmj pain, and jaw exercises have always helped for me. I do several repetitions of stretching and chewing movements each day, which helps to keep my jaw muscles loose and flexible. I also sleep with a mouth guard when my jaw pain acts up, which helps too.

By Rundocuri — On Apr 30, 2014

My brother had jaw surgery for tmj issues, and experienced ringing in his ears after the procedure. He also had a return of popping sensations in his jaw about 4 months after surgery. Based on his experience, I think people with tmj problems should try other less invasive corrective measures before having surgery.

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