Joint Disorders

Joint Disorders

Temporomandibular Joint Disorders (TMJ) are related to the complex jaw joint. Our multidisciplinary approach to both surgical and non-surgical management of TMJ disorders typically involves close consultation with restorative dentists, orthodontists, and physical therapists. Every patient is different and depending on the diagnosis, treatment may involve medication, diet restrictions, physical therapy, dental splints, orthodontics, and/or surgery.

The list to the right is an abridged list of the most common temporomandibular joint disorder related topics managed by the highly trained, diverse group of specialists at HNSA. It is for patient information only and is not meant to be all-inclusive.

Diagnosis of TMJ Disorders

Patients often suffer from TMJ disorders for a long time without realizing it. Some symptoms such as worn teeth and headaches may seem unrelated to jaw joints and muscles.

Some other symptoms of TMJ disorders include:

  • Clenching or grinding of the teeth.
  • Sore, stiff muscles around the jaw in the morning.
  • Frequent headaches or neck aches.
  • Clicking, popping, or locking of the jaw when mouth is opened.
  • Difficulty or pain when eating or yawning.
  • Teeth that no longer touch when biting down.

Our physicians are very experienced in the diagnosis and treatment of TMJ disorders. If you are concerned that you’re experiencing symptoms of TMJ disorders, we’re available to help.

Splint Therapy

Splint Therapy can be very effective in initial treatment of most TMJ disorders. Occlusal splint therapy is a dental splint that serves as an anterior positioning device. This allows the lower jaw to move slightly forward, helping to alleviate clenching and joint pressure.

TMJ Surgery

With so many other treatment alternatives available, surgery is rarely needed. However, in some cases the joint has become so severely damaged that surgery is needed to correct it. Surgery can help restore your jaw joint and eliminate pain and other symptoms.

TMJ Arthrocentesis

Arthrocentesis is a relatively minor outpatient corrective jaw surgery for patients with acute internal derangements or inflammatory conditions. Arthrocentesis involves a “washing out” of the joint space using needles and injections of saline and steroids. This is designed to decrease pain and inflammation and improve jaw function.

TMJ Arthroplasty With or Without Grafting

Arthroplasty is extremely effective in relieving pain and improving jaw function. An outpatient procedure, arthroplasty is performed under a general anesthetic for patients with painful internal derangements and advanced joint degeneration.

Total TMJ Replacement

In patients with severe degenerative joint disease or with fused joints (ankylosis), sometimes a total joint replacement is required. “Total” refers to the replacement of fossa and the condyle. The most common total joint replacements are alloplastic (metal combined with high strength plastics, similar to hip replacement materials). Our doctors are very experienced in performing this surgery using the leading stock and custom total TMJ implants available.

Our surgeons have also pioneered the use of the 2nd metatarsal as an alternative to metal in TMJ joint replacement and reconstruction surgery. This procedure involves replacing the degenerate or mutilated joint with the second toe and a portion of the blood supply. By using a ‘living joint,’ this type of microvascular reconstruction is designed to improve the quality of life, decrease pain, and optimize function in patients with chronic discomfort.