Jaw Joint (TMJ) Replacement

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Innovative surgery for all types of jaw defects

The temporomandibular joint (TMJ) allows your jaw to move. In some cases, problems relating to TMJ disorder, trauma or medical issues can cause the need for a replacement. As a specialist clinic in this area, our experience and expertise provides care for all jaw defects. Luke Cascarini carried out the first total jaw replacement with a titanium implant in the UK.

Who is suitable for TMJ replacement?

Jaw joint (TMJ) replacement is seen as the ultimate end-line treatment for patients suffering from TMJ disorders, whose jaw problems have failed to respond to all other treatments. Many people don’t need this as other options are successfully used to help first. However, we are proud to be able to offer jaw joint replacement to patients whose jaw problems fail to respond to other treatments.

TMJ replacement is best suited to patients with conditions including:

  • Extensive osteoarthritis, which causes significant pain, restricted function, impaired ability to eat normally and a negative impact on quality of life.
  • Destructive arthritis, such as rheumatoid or psoriatic arthritis. This can be managed, but still causes pain and poor function.
  • Severe TMJ disorder, where patients usually experience significant pain when talking or swallowing their own saliva.
  • A deep-seated bone infection
  • A cancerous tumour, which has required the joint and part of the jaw bone to be removed
  • Trauma or an accident resulting in a smashed jaw with limited function

What is a jaw joint replacement?

Jaw joint (TMJ) replacement is a surgical procedure that involves replacing the joints between the lower jaw and the base of the skull with custom-made prosthetic joints. It is a relatively new treatment, using an innovative titanium and ultra high density polyethylene replacement joint for incredible results. Jaw joint replacement can transform your quality of life and help you live the normal life you deserve once more.

Expert treatment from experienced specialists

What does the procedure involve?

A jaw joint replacement is a complex procedure, with the planning and custom manufacture of your new joint taking approximately three months. We begin by discussing the procedure with you in detail, answering any questions you may have and helping you understand the treatment.

Initially, you will have a special very fine slice CT scan, which is used to create draft designs for your new joint. These will be discussed and amended with the manufacturer until we are completely happy that they are perfect. After this, your surgery date will be booked and your replacement joint is built, a process that takes six weeks.

Your jaw joint replacement surgery itself takes around 1.5 hours per side. After surgery, you will need to stay in hospital for usually between 2-4 nights, depending on your individual case. We will give you some tailored advice on your recovery time and how long you should rest at home before returning to work.

Frequently Asked Questions
How painful is jaw joint replacement surgery?

During the surgery, anaesthetic is used to ensure you will remain comfortable and feel no pain. Afterwards, you will experience swelling and pain for a few days but this is managed with effective pain medication. You will need to remain in hospital for around 2-4 nights to ensure you are recovering well.

Where are the cuts made and what do the scars look like?

During surgery, two cuts are needed to allow the replacement joint to be placed. One is in front of your ear, leaving an almost invisible scar. The other is in your upper neck, with a scar that is only really apparent if you look closely or tell someone it is there.

How long does recovery take?

Full recovery from jaw replacement surgery can take 6-12 months. Most people feel near normal again in 2-3 months, and are eating pretty normally, usually better than before surgery.

How long will the surgery take?

Jaw replacement surgery takes around 1.5 hours per side. You will need to stay in hospital afterwards for 1-2 nights per side, so usually between 2-4 nights for each person.

What are the risks of TMJ replacement surgery?

As with all surgery, the risks and complications are discussed thoroughly with you before your treatment. One of the main risks of TMJ replacement surgery is infection, as in lots of surgical cases. An allergic reaction to the metal in the replacement joint is also possible. You will have an allergy test before the surgery, so if it is discovered you are allergic to any metals in the joint, a full-titanium joint can be made.

Some risks specific to TMJ replacement include facial swelling and nerve weakness, abnormal growth of nerve tissue, ear problems or dislocation. Patients with long-term chronic pain prior to surgery may continue to experience some pain, as the joint replacement is primarily focused on improving function. These patients will be referred to a specialist.

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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