The TMJ’s are the joints of the mandible (‘lower jaw’). They provide mobility of the lower jaw which aids in breathing, speech and chewing. The TMJs are a very complicated structure consisting of multiple tissues including the bones, the rubbery disc between the skull and jaw bone, muscles of the jaws and the ligaments holding the entire complex together.
Unfortunately when the tissues of the TMJs are not working cohesively, significant pain and dysfunction of the jaws can occur.
It should be noted that not all TMJ issues require surgery. Your surgeon will often work with your dentist or oro-facial pain specialist to suggest conservative non-surgical approaches which are best trialled first. This can include a number of options from exercise and physiotherapy, to occlusal splints (special ‘mouthguards’) and dietary changes. Medication may occasionally be required.
Failing these conservative measures, surgical options may be discussed. These can include less invasive procedures like a jaw joint wash out or arthrocentesis, to more significant surgery which is tailored to each patient and their problem.