What to Expect and How to Prepare for TMJ Surgery
by Dr. Scott Bolding
Table of Contents
01. How to Prepare for TMJ Surgery
02. What to Expect During TMJ Surgery
03. What Will Recovery from TMJ Surgery Look Like?
Once you’ve made the decision to move forward with TMJ surgery, it will be helpful to know what to expect and how to prepare. Knowing what to expect will help you feel more confident with your decision. And having a good idea of what you need to do to prepare will make the process go smoothly.
Take a look at the information below to get a better idea of what you need to prepare for TMJ surgery, what to expect during TMJ surgery, and what your recovery from TMJ surgery will look like. Feel free to ask your doctor or surgeon about anything specifically related to your unique case. The more information you can get, the easier the whole experience will be for you.
How to Prepare for TMJ Surgery
Your surgeon will give you instructions specific to your procedure, but there are some general things to keep in mind as you prepare for TMJ surgery. The more you can do to prepare for TMJ surgery.
The most important way to prepare for TMJ surgery is to ask your surgeon questions. Even if you think the question is silly, asking will help you understand the process better. That, in turn, should help with any potential anxiety or fears. Be honest with your surgeon about any hesitations. Your surgeon wants you to be as comfortable as possible and is more than willing to help you prepare for TMJ surgery.
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Get Things Together
It will help to get everything together that you’ll need after your surgery. Arrange transportation to and from your surgery location. Depending on your procedure, you’ll need to be on a soft food diet for a few days. So make sure to get all of that food before your surgery. Make sure to fill any medication as well. You should also stock up on ice packs and heat packs in case you experience any pain or swelling after your surgery.
You will need to stop smoking as well. Smoking has an impact on your lung function. Since your body needs oxygen in order to heal well, smoking can make that process more difficult. Smoking also increases your risk of developing blood clots and infections after surgery.
What to Expect During TMJ Surgery
What to expect during TMJ surgery will depend on your specific procedure. But there are some general things to keep in mind as your surgery day approaches.
The day of your surgery, you will need to bring any paperwork to the office, along with your ID and insurance cards. If you are staying overnight in the hospital, make sure you bring clothes for the next day and anything you may need during the night. Also, be sure to wear loose-fitting clothing. Don’t wear any jewelry or makeup.
Once you get to the office or hospital, a nurse will help you get checked in and settled. Your surgeon will meet with you to discuss the process and allow you to ask any final questions.
TMJ arthrocentesis is performed under local anesthesia, which simply numbs the area around the joint. Once the anesthesia has numbed the area, your surgeon will insert needles into the joint. Then, the joint will be flushed out with a saline solution. During this procedure, your surgeon may also adjust your jaw, which will help remove any scar tissue.
Since TMJ arthrocentesis is minimally invasive, it will be performed in one of our offices. This simple procedure is usually done in about 20 minutes per joint, and you will be able to go home the same day.
TMJ arthroscopy is another minimally invasive procedure. Your surgeon will make a small incision in front of your ear. Then, they will insert metal tubes that have cameras in them. These cameras give your surgeon the ability to see what’s going on inside your joint. They will also be able to make any repairs to the joint, as needed.
This is an outpatient procedure, and you should expect to go home the same day.
Open Joint Surgery
During open joint surgery, an incision is made so that your surgeon can access the joint directly. From there your surgeon can perform a variety of operations, depending on your needs. Open joint surgery is usually used to repair, reposition, or completely replace the disc in your jaw joint.
The whole procedure can take 1-2 hours, depending on your case. Since TMJ open joint surgery typically requires general anesthesia, you will need to stay overnight in a hospital. But you should be able to go home the next day.
Recovering from TMJ Surgery
Knowing what to expect during the recovery process is just as important as knowing how to prepare for TMJ surgery. It’s important to take care of yourself in the days and weeks following your surgery so you can recover well.
The amount of time it takes for you to recover from TMJ surgery will depend on your specific procedure and any complications–during or after surgery.
Arthrocentesis and arthroscopy are simple procedures. You can expect to get back to your normal life a few days after your surgery. Open joint surgery is more invasive, however, and will take several weeks for everything to fully heal.
Your surgeon will give you more specific information about when you can return to work. But for most procedures, you should expect to return to work the next day.
You may experience some pain, swelling, or bruising immediately after surgery. You can take prescribed pain medication or an OTC medication, such as ibuprofen or tylenol. We also recommend using an ice pack if you’re feeling uncomfortable. After 48 hours, you can use hot packs as well. Keeping your head elevated when resting will also help keep swelling down.
You may notice a change in your bite and some stiffness in the joint, but this will resolve itself over time. Your doctor will recommend physical therapy starting 48 hours after your procedure. This will help keep the joint moving and reduce the chance of developing scar tissue.
Taking good care of your jaw joint is an important part of the recovery process. If you start eating hard, crunchy food too soon, the joint won’t have time to heal properly. We recommend sticking to a soft food diet for the first few days following your surgery. Your doctor can advise you on when you can start introducing other foods. Just don’t rush it; you don’t want to create more problems for your joint.
The great part about TMJ surgery is that it gets to the root of your problem, so your jaw pain will be completely eliminated. That means you’ll be able to eat your favorite foods again once your joint recovers.
TMJ Surgery: Everything You Need to Know. (2022b, July 15). Verywell Health. https://www.verywellhealth.com/tmj-surgery-4172982
Wolford, L. M., DMD. (2022, February 1). Steps To Prepare For An Oral Surgery Procedure. Larry M. Wolford, DMD. https://drlarrywolford.com/steps-prepare-oral-surgery-procedure/
Jewell, T. (2019b, September 26). What to Expect from TMJ Surgery. Healthline. https://www.healthline.com/health/tmj-surgery
How to Prepare for TMJ Surgery
Helping Your TMJ Surgery Go Well
When you’ve made the decision to move forward with TMJ surgery, knowing what to expect can help you prepare and feel confident about your decision. Knowing what recovery will look like for your specific procedure will give you the opportunity to get everything ready so everything will go smoothly in the days following your surgery.
If you have any questions or want more information about how to prepare for TMJ surgery, contact our specialists today.