image of skull a skull with a pen pointing to the TMJDo you experience limited mobility, discomfort, or stiffness in your jaw? If so, you are not alone. Researchers estimated that up to 40% of people suffer from TMJ disorder.

The temporomandibular joint (TMJ) is a hinge-like joint positioned where the jawbone and skull connect, which allows the jaw to slide up and down. The TMJ enables people to communicate, chew, and complete other functions with the mouth. However, when the temporomandibular joint is not performing correctly, it can pose a challenge in day-to-day life. For this reason, some oral surgeons suggest surgery for TMJ disorder (TMD).

In this blog, we discuss who’s an excellent candidacy for TMJ surgery, two popular types of TMJ surgery, and what to anticipate after surgery.


Before considering surgery, most oral surgeons suggest more conservative alternatives, such as:

  • Muscle relaxation techniques
  • Bite management with orthodontic treatment
  • Occlusal splint therapy
  • Occlusal rehabilitation with a removable oral appliance

These techniques and treatments are designed to mitigate pressure on the joints, decrease muscle tension, and keep the teeth in optimal alignment.

Typically, TMJ surgery is considered a last resort if nonsurgical therapies are ineffective. An oral surgeon may recommend TMJ surgery if you experience one or more of the following symptoms: 

  • You can’t open or close your mouth completely.
  • You have difficulty speaking, eating, or drinking, because of jaw pain or stiffness. 
  • You feel a sharp, persistent pain when you open or close your mouth.
  • Your discomfort or stiffness gets progressively worse, even with nonsurgical treatments or rest.
  • You have distinct structural problems or diseases in your TMJ.
  • Your TMJ has been dislocated.

In contrast, you may not need surgery for TMJ dysfunction if:

  • Your symptoms are mild (just popping and clicking, with no associated pain).
  • Your TMJ symptoms are inconsistent.
  • You have complete mobility in your jaw.

Types of TMJ Surgery

While there are many types of surgery for TMJ pain and disorder, here are two common surgeries that oral surgeons perform:

Arthroscopic Treatment

Oral surgeons perform arthroscopic treatment (arthroscopy) by opening one or more small incisions in the skin above the tempormandibular joint. Next, a cannula (narrow tube) is gently inserted through the incision and into the joint. Afterward, the oral surgeon inserts an arthroscope (a tool with light and a camera) into the cannula to view the TMJ so that the oral surgeon can have the liberty to do complicated procedures, for example:

  • Inject medication
  • Reduce soreness and swelling
  • Reshape the joint
  • Remove scar tissue

Reconstructive Jaw Surgery

Surgeons typically reserve reconstructive jaw surgery for the most severe cases. During reconstructive jaw surgery, an oral surgeon may reshape or remove parts of the jaw to make ease tension from the TMJ.


After surgery for TMJ, patients may expect discomfort and swelling. Between the two types of TMJ surgery, Arthroscopic treatment is a less invasive technique, and patients can expect a shorter recovery time (usually several days to a week). On the other hand, reconstructive jaw surgery is more complicated and may require more time for recuperation.

Schedule Surgery for TMJ Pain and Dysfunction

If you believe that you could benefit from surgery for TMJ pain and dysfunction, it’s essential to be evaluated by a skilled oral surgeon before moving forward with oral surgery. Dr. Chris Tye is a board-certified oral surgeon who helps relieve TMJ pain in Colleyville, TX, and surrounding areas. Before deciding if you qualify for arthroscopic treatment or reconstructive jaw surgery, Dr. Tye thoroughly examines the anatomy of the jaw and considers medical history to determine if surgery will benefit your unique TMJ symptoms. Book a consultation for TMJ surgery by calling 817-552-3223 or filling out our online form today.