TMJ Surgery: Alleviating Pain and Improving Jaw Function for a Better Quality of Life

If you’re one of the many people that suffer from TMJ disorder and continue to experience chronic pain, difficulty moving your jaw and other symptoms such as headaches and earaches, then you might be a suitable candidate for TMJ surgery. Find out all of the information about the disorder below and whether surgery could be the right option for you.
What is TMJ Disorder?

What is TMJ Disorder?

Temporomandibular joint (TMJ) disorder is a condition that affects the joints that connect the lower jaw to the skull. These joints, known as the temporomandibular joints, are located on either side of the head, just in front of the ears. If affected by TMJ Disorder, the joints can cause significant pain and discomfort and lead to difficulty moving the jaw.

What causes TMJ Disorder?

TMJ disorder can be caused by a variety of factors:

  • Trauma to the jaw or head
  • Arthritis
  • Misalignment of the jaw
  • Teeth grinding or clenching
  • Stress
  • Genetic predisposition

What Are the Symptoms of TMJ Disorder?

TMJ symptoms can include pain or discomfort in the jaw or face, difficulty or pain when opening or closing the mouth, a clicking or popping sound in the jaw, and limited movement of jaw muscles. People with TMJ disorder may also experience headaches, earaches, and ringing in the ears. In some cases, the jaw may even lock in an open or closed position.

Non-surgical treatment options for TMJ disorders

Non-surgical treatment options for temporomandibular joint (TMJ) disorders are often the first line of therapy before considering surgery. These options may include:


Over-the-counter pain relievers, anti-inflammatory drugs, or muscle relaxants can help alleviate pain and reduce inflammation.

Physical therapy

Exercises, stretching, and massages can help strengthen the jaw muscles and improve jaw movement.

Occlusal appliances

Wearing an oral splint or mouth guard can help stabilise the jaw, alleviate pain, and reduce teeth grinding or clenching.

Lifestyle changes

Stress management techniques, such as meditation or relaxation exercises, can help reduce tension in the jaw muscles. Avoiding hard, crunchy, or chewy foods and not resting the chin on the hand can also help.

Heat/cold therapy

Applying warm or cold compresses to the affected area may provide temporary pain relief Trigger point injections In some cases, injecting medications like local anaesthetics, corticosteroids, or Botox into specific jaw muscles can help relieve pain and muscle tightness.


Working with a mental health professional can help address habits or behaviours that may contribute to TMJ disorders, such as teeth grinding, clenching, or jaw tension.

Am I a good candidate for TMJ surgery?

A good candidate for TMJ surgery is someone who has tried more conservative treatment options, such as physical therapy and medication and has not found significant relief from their symptoms. You may be a good candidate for TMJ surgery if the below is relevant to you:

  • Severe and chronic pain in the jaw joint, face or ear
  • Limited jaw movement or a clicking or popping sound in the jaw
  • Damage or arthritis in the temporomandibular joint
  • A misaligned jaw or malocclusion that is causing strain on the temporomandibular joint
  • Failed to achieve relief from more conservative treatments such as orthodontic treatment, night guards or physical therapy
  • In good overall health

How is TMJ surgery carried out?

TMJ surgery is carried out using two primary methods: TMJ arthroscopy and open-joint surgery. TMJ arthroscopy involves inserting a small, thin tube (cannula) and an arthroscope (a tiny camera) into the joint space to visualise, diagnose, and treat the affected area.

In open-joint surgery, the surgeon makes an incision to directly access the temporomandibular joint, allowing for more extensive repair or reconstruction of the joint. The choice between these techniques depends on the severity and specific requirements of the patient’s TMJ disorder.

Why choose us to treat your TMJ disorder?

At The Dentist at 70 Pitt Street, we can help treat TMJ disorder by diagnosing the issue, recommending non-surgical treatment options, and developing a personalised treatment plan. Depending on the severity of your condition we may prescribe medications for pain relief, design custom occlusal appliances like mouth guards or splints, or suggest physical therapy or lifestyle modifications. In more severe cases, we may refer you to a specialist for further evaluation and potential surgical intervention.

How to contact us at our Sydney CBD clinic

Day Time +61292333399
After Hours 0406986909
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Mon & Thu: 8am-7pm
Tue, Wed & Fri: 8am-5pm
Saturday: 8am-1pm
Sunday: closed


Below you can find our FAQs about TMJ surgery. Sydney residents can contact us for more information about the procedure, or use the online form above to book an appointment.

Diagnosis of TMJ disorder typically begins with a physical examination and a review of the patient’s medical history. It will include an examination of the jaw, face, and neck for signs of pain or tenderness, as well as checking for limited jaw movement or a clicking or popping sound in the jaw. It may also include imaging tests, such as x-rays, CT scans or an MRI to further evaluate the joint and surrounding structures.

TMJ disorder can be a chronic condition and while it can be managed and the symptoms improved, it can not be completely cured. However, with the right treatment, most people with TMJ disorder can find relief from their symptoms and return to their normal daily activities.
Some things you can do on your own to treat TMJ disorder include reducing various tension-related habits. You can eat softer foods or cut your food into smaller pieces. We recommend you avoid very sticky or chewy foods and abstain from chewing gum. Jaw exercises and facial massage can also help to reduce muscle tension in this area and relieve soreness. Applying heat or ice can also be used to minimise aches and pain.
There are some cases where surgical treatments are not recommended, such as if you have a history of bleeding disorders, have a high risk of infection or if you have another underlying medical condition that would complicate the surgery.
As with all surgical procedures, there are risks and complications associated with TMJ surgery. These can include infection, bleeding, nerve damage, and even the persistence or worsening of symptoms. That’s why it is important that you’re fully informed about the risks and benefits of surgery before deciding to proceed.

Disclaimer: Any surgical or invasive procedure carries risks. Before proceeding you should seek a second
opinion from an appropriately qualified health practitioner. Contact us for more information.

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