Disorders of the jaw are often painful. When the jaw joint isn’t functioning correctly, a person may experience difficulty when chewing or speaking. They may find their jaw locks either open or shut. The pain is often so bad that it keeps them up at night. When conservative treatments have been exhausted, a dentist may recommend a visit to an oral surgeon for a better solution. Oral surgery, while usually a last resort, can successfully repair a damaged jaw.
Before scheduling a surgery, the dentist will determine the cause of the pain. In many instances, the cartilage disc that cushions the jaw joint is damaged or displaced. When this is the case, the surgeon may be able to use a minimally invasive procedure to reshape and move this disc. In healthy circumstances, the cartilage disc will be smooth and round. If it is damaged, the surgeon may need to trim the disc. This is done with a small incision.
If the damage is more serious, often the case after severe trauma, the surgeon may need to fully open the patient’s jaw to correct the problem. Wires may be used to hold a broken jaw in place. Plates and screws may be needed to stabilize a fracture. The surgeon will try to make the incision in a hidden place, to avoid an embarrassing scar. Maintaining the patient’s physical appearance is also a top priority. Recovery from this type of surgery may take several months.
Sometimes jaw problems are the result of misaligned teeth. In these instances, surgery will avoided, if possible. If the patient’s bite is worn down, the dentist may suggest dental crowns to build up the damaged teeth. A mouth guard may be suggested to patients who have a history of grinding their teeth at night. This will reduce the amount of pressure that is placed on the jaw.
Jaw pain is no laughing matter. Those who experience it on a regular basis may feel depressed or even angry. A local dentist will determine the cause of the jaw pain. In some cases, surgery may be recommended to stop the pain. The goal of any treatment is to make the jaw function properly, which will help to reduce or eliminate the constant pain.