In What are TMJ/TMD Disorders? (Part VI), we looked at other treatments for TMJ/TMD if initial treatments do not work. These treatments include transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation, ultrasound, trigger-point injections, radio wave therapy and low-level laser therapy. In this article, we will look at surgery as a last resort treatment since it is irreversible.
Arthrocentesis surgery is performed when the jaws are locked but there is no major history of TMJ/TMD. Arthrocentesis is a minor procedure that the dentist can perform in the office. This is achieved by administering general anesthesia, inserting needles into the joint and washing it out. The damaged tissue can also be removed and a stuck disc can also be dislodged.
Arthroscopy surgery is performed with an arthroscope, a tool which has a lens and light attached to it. The procedure is initiated by administering general anesthesia and inserting the arthroscope through a small cut in front of the ear. After insertion, the dentist will view the joint on a video screen and this allows the dentist to extract inflamed tissue and adjust the disc or joint.
* Open Joint Surgery
Open joint surgery is indicated for wearing down of bony structures, tumours or presence of bony chips. Unlike arthroscopy which is minimally invasive, open joint surgery carries a greater risk of scarring and nerve damage.