Jaw Joint (TMJ) Open Surgery

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Effective surgical treatment to solve your jaw problems

Open TMJ surgery can be used to diagnose and treat more significant jaw problems that haven’t been able to be solved with non-surgical treatment or an arthroscopy. At the London TMJ clinic, we have expertise in all areas of TMJ surgery and can help improve your quality of life.

What is open jaw joint surgery?

If other TMJ treatments have failed, open jaw joint surgery can provide an effective option to relieve your symptoms and restore function to your mouth and jaw. It involves a cut made in front of your ear, exposing the jaw joint to enable highly accurate diagnosis and treatment.

Open jaw joint surgery can be used for:

  • Diagnosing and treating problems such as torn cartilage or damage
  • Disc reduction and fixation, known as discopexy or meniscoplasty, to repair and restore a displaced disc to the proper place using tiny stitches
  • Disc removal and grafting, known as discectomy or meniscetomy, which involves a reconstruction usually using a fat graft from your abdomen
  • Cutting out a tumour or disease tissue, with or without a reconstruction and graft depending on each case
Expert treatment from experienced specialists

What does the procedure involve?

If open surgery is the best course of treatment for your case, we will discuss the procedure with you in detail, helping you understand what will happen during surgery and giving you the chance to ask any questions you may have. When you are happy to proceed, a surgery date is arranged.

Your open jaw joint surgery is carried out under general anaesthetic, involving a tube going into your nose. A cut is made in front of your ear to open and examine the jaw joint, and your treatment is skillfully adapted depending on the specific needs of your case. It could involve repairing, replacing or reshaping the cartilage disc or joint surface.

The procedure takes around an hour for each side and sometimes requires an overnight stay in hospital, although some patients will be able to go home on the same day. You will be given bespoke post-operative instructions and advice, and a follow-up appointment will be arranged for around a week later.

Frequently Asked Questions
What do I need to do after open jaw joint surgery?

After you have had open jaw joint surgery, it is important to rest, particularly for the first few days. You will need to take a week or so off work to ensure you give yourself adequate time to recover. You will be given an OraStretch device to help you carry out some post-operative physiotherapy exercises at home.

Is open jaw joint surgery painful?

As you are under general anaesthetic during open jaw joint surgery, the actual procedure itself is not painful, but you will experience some pain and discomfort afterwards. This can be managed with pain medication, and it is important you take this as instructed to reduce pain levels and prevent headaches.

What are the risks of open jaw joint surgery?

The main risks are infection, bleeding, scarring, facial weakness and numbness and pain. You will likely experience some jaw stiffness, but this is temporary and can be helped with gentle exercises. The risk of infection and troublesome bleeding is very rare, as is permanent weakness of the brow or eye muscle.

Will I experience any numbness after surgery?

It is normal for the area over the jaw joint to remain numb after surgery, as there is a small nerve within the joint that is inevitably removed during the TMJ surgery. After a while, you will not notice this, and the area of numbness is actually quite small.

Getting in touch

If you would like to discuss treatment, book a consultation or just have a general enquiry, please get in touch.

Referrals from GDPs, GPs and consultants are welcome. Please use this form if you wish to discuss a case prior to referral.

We aim to reply to enquiries within 24 hours.

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