How Orthognathic Surgery Can Treat TMJ

How Orthognathic Surgery Can Treat TMJ

The temporomandibular joint (TMJ) is a small joint located where the jaw bone and the skull meet - right in front of the ear. Its proper functioning is necessary to help you with things like speaking, yawning, chewing, swallowing, and any other movement that involves the jaw. 

For one reason or another, some individuals deal with an ailing TMJ that doesn’t work properly. And treatment, including orthognathic surgery, becomes necessary. 

What Causes TMJ Disorder?

There are many different types of TMJ disorders, each resulting in a dysfunctional joint. These disorders may involve any part of the TMJ, including the joint or muscles.

So what causes TMJ disorder?

It can happen due to the clenching of the jaw or the grinding of the teeth at night. These behaviors and the tightening of the muscles surrounding the TMJ can all put unnecessary pressure on the joint. This can often be the result of stress. Other causes of TMJ disorders that may be the culprit include trauma, arthritis, or wear and tear. 

Signs TMJ Disorder

Signs of a dysfunctional TMJ can appear out of nowhere. And when they do arise, they often dissipate on their own shortly after. Unfortunately, without addressing the issue, the pain can begin to appear more often and more intensely. 

A few of the most common signs your TMJ may need attention include: 

  • Clicking or popping noises when moving the jaw
  • Soreness or tenderness in the TMJ area
  • Facial pain
  • Headaches
  • Locking of the joint
  • Difficulty chewing

Treating TMJ Disorder

TMJ disorder presents itself differently for many patients. For some, it may be a minor inconvenience whereas for others it could be enough to greatly impact their quality of life. Because of this, there are many different options for treating TMJ disorder, including: 

  • Anti-inflammatory medications or muscle relaxers
  • Oral appliance therapy (OAT)
  • Biofeedback therapy
  • Physical therapy with ultrasound and electrical stimulation 

And, depending on the TMJ disorder and the patient, surgical procedures may be necessary. 

How Orthognathic Surgery Can Treat TMJ

When the upper and the lower jaws do not meet properly or are positioned poorly, sometimes orthognathic surgery may be needed. In Greek, orthos means “straight,” and gnathos means “jaws.” Any development that doesn’t happen properly can result in the jaw being out of alignment and may require surgery to correct it. 

A skilled dentist, orthodontist, and oral surgeon will be able to best determine whether or not the jaw growth is contributing to TMJ pain, such as chronic pain, difficulty chewing and swallowing, speech issues, and more. 

Before orthognathic surgery can commence, a physical exam as well as a diagnostic workup including x-rays, clinical photographs, and dental stone models of the teeth will be completed. A thorough review of everything will help the oral surgeon to determine any areas of concern, whether or not surgery is a viable solution, and the best way to approach it. 

While the specific surgery depends greatly on the patient’s needs, orthognathic surgery, in general, will realign the position of the jaw to offer long-lasting relief from TMJ disorder and its symptoms. 

Learn More About TMJ Disorders

To learn more about TMJ disorders and how orthognathic surgery can be used for treatment, the experts at New Jersey Oral & Maxillofacial Surgery can help. With extensive training, experience, and skill combined with the latest technology and procedures, patients can find much-needed relief. 

To learn more or to schedule an appointment, contact us today at one of our three convenient office locations!