TMJ treatment comes in many forms and degrees. Surgical treatment approaches, including joint replacement surgery, should be considered a last resort. That’s in part because surgical joint replacement has a high risk of complications and a low success rate. However, it seems that the procedure might be getting better, including the use of fat grafting to help cushion and lubricate the artificial joints.

Temporomandibular Joint Ankylosis

One of the types of TMJ that can require surgical attention is temporomandibular joint ankylosis, in which the temporomandibular joint begins to seize up. To study the effectiveness of fat grafting on joint replacement surgery, this study took 32 patients who had a total of 48 stiff joints. The population, which included 22 women and 10 men with a median age of 39, wasn’t completely immobilized by their ankylosis, but movements were very limited. On average, they could only open their mouth about half an inch (as measured by the distance between their incisors at maximum opening).

The patients were also suffering from a range of common TMJ symptoms, including jaw pain and headaches, which were both rated an average of 8 on a 10-point scale.

More than half of the patients (53%) had developed TMJ following jaw trauma. For most of these patients, previous TMJ surgeries had been tried and unsuccessful. The 32 patients had an average of two previous surgeries each before the current surgery.

Although their previous surgeries had been unsuccessful, the surgery with a fat graft proved a success for these patients. On average, people were able to open their mouth about an inch and a half following surgery. And their pain reduced dramatically. Jaw pain dropped to an average of 1.5 while headaches dropped to 2.5 on a 10-point scale. These results are very promising, and the fact that follow-ups were performed for up to 168 months shows that the procedure may give long-lasting relief.

Avoiding TMJ Surgery

Although these surgical results are promising, it’s also sobering to think that patients needed an average of three surgeries to get relief. And there are other complications and risks associated with surgery that make it best to avoid whenever possible.

To avoid surgery, you need to preserve your precious temporomandibular joint cartilage. Don’t ignore TMJ symptoms, because the condition will likely progress if ignored. It’s reasonable to start home care when you first notice symptoms, but if symptoms persist or recur, you need to seek professional care for your TMJ.

We can provide noninvasive TMJ treatment in Westchester County that can relieve your symptoms and prevent their recurrence. Please call (914) 526-2144 to schedule an appointment with a neuromuscular dentist at Advanced Dentistry of Mohegan Lake.