Reviewed by Dr. DJ Lemieux, DMD

Living with temporomandibular joint disorder (TMD) can be a challenging and often painful experience.

In our first blog of this four-part series, we explained TMD and conservative treatment options available.

If you have tried conservative treatment options like physical therapy, anti-inflammatories, and mouth guards without finding relief, TMJ arthroscopy might be for you.

In this second blog of our TMJ series, we will explain the procedure in detail and discuss its benefits.

Table of Contents

What is TMJ Arthroscopy?

TMJ arthroscopy is a minimally invasive surgical procedure that uses arthroscopic techniques to access, diagnose, and treat problems within the joint spaces of the temporomandibular joint.

Compared to open-joint surgery, arthroscopy is a minimally invasive procedure, often resulting in quicker recovery times and less post-operative discomfort.

This procedure allows maxillofacial surgeons to view the internal structure of the jaw joint through a small incision, using a device known as an arthroscopic telescope.

Common Joint Disorders Diagnosed with Arthroscopy

TMJ arthroscopy can be used to diagnose and treat various joint disorders in the jaw, including:

  • Synovitis: This condition is characterized by inflammation of the TMJ tissues. It can be caused by various factors, including arthritis, trauma to the joint, or infection.
  • Myofascial Pain Syndrome: This condition affects the muscles that control jaw movement, causing pain, tenderness, and limited range of motion.
  • Disc displacement: This is a common TMJ disorder where the articular disc, which acts as a cushion between the bones of the joint, becomes displaced or dislocated.
  • Internal derangement: This term refers to any structural problem within the jaw joint, such as a torn disc or damaged bone.

Benefits of TMJ Arthroscopy

  1. Accurate diagnosis: TMJ arthroscopy allows for direct visualization and examination of the internal structures of the jaw joint, providing a more accurate diagnosis compared to imaging tests.
  2. Minimally invasive: This procedure only requires a small incision, resulting in less trauma to surrounding tissues and quicker recovery times.
  3. Targeted treatment: TMJ arthroscopy allows the surgeon to precisely target and treat specific problem areas within the joint, leading to better outcomes.
  4. Reduced discomfort: As this procedure is minimally invasive, post-operative pain and discomfort are significantly reduced compared to traditional open-joint surgery.
  5. Faster recovery: With less tissue trauma and a smaller incision, patients can recover faster and return to their daily activities sooner.

TMJ Arthroscopy Procedure

TMJ arthroscopy is an outpatient procedure done in your surgeon’s office.

Your surgeon will make a small incision near the jaw joint and insert thearthroscopic telescope. This device contains a tiny camera and light source that transmits images of the joint to a monitor, allowing the surgeon to view its internal structures.

After diagnosing your problem, the surgeon can then use specialized instruments to treat the issue, such as removing scar tissue or repairing damaged tissues. The entire procedure typically takes less than an hour, and most patients can go home on the same day.

Expert Care for TMJ Disorders

If you are struggling with TMD, visit AZ Max Oral & Maxillofacial Surgeons. Our team of skilled surgeons specializes in treating TMJ disorders. Call or text (480) 830-5866 to schedule a consultation and find the personalized care you deserve.

If you are searching for an oral surgeon in Mesa, or ‘TMJ treatment near me,’ Trust AZ Max Oral Surgery.

Stay tuned for the third blog in this series, TMJ Arthroscopy Recovery and Aftercare. This blog will focus on aftercare and what to expect after surgery.

FAQ About TMJ Arthroscopy

Is TMJ arthroscopy safe?

Yes, TMJ arthroscopy is generally considered a safe and low-risk procedure when performed by an experienced maxillofacial surgeon. As with any surgery, there are potential risks involved, such as infection or bleeding. However, these risks are rare.

How painful is jaw arthroscopy?

Patients may experience some discomfort after the procedure, but most report minimal pain and discomfort. Pain can be managed with over-the-counter pain relievers, and your surgeon may prescribe medication to help with any post-operative discomfort.

How long does it take to recover from TMJ arthroscopy?

Recovery time can vary for each individual, but most patients can return to their normal activities within a few days to a week after the procedure.

Is TMJ arthroscopy covered by insurance?

Each insurance plan covers various procedures differently. While some may cover TMJ arthroscopy if diagnostic criteria are met, others may consider it a non-covered service. It is important to keep in mind that insurance coverage is not a good indicator of the value of a procedure. Each patient and surgeon should assess their particular situation and pursue the treatment most likely to alleviate the issue at hand.