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Arthroscopic TMJ


  • Temporomandibular joint (TMJ) arthroscopy is surgery to find and treat problems in your TMJ. The TMJ is where your upper and lower jaw bones meet. Your TMJ allows you to open and close your mouth. You may need a TMJ arthroscopy if you have pain, and your jaw does not move as it should. You may need surgery if your jaw locks often making it hard for you to close your mouth. TMJ arthroscopy may also be done if other treatments for your TMJ problems have failed.
  • During surgery, an arthroscope is used to help your caregivers see your TMJ. An arthroscope is a bendable tube with a small camera attached to it. The pictures of your TMJ will show up on a TV screen for your caregiver to see. The pictures will help your caregiver know what is needed to repair your TMJ. Your caregiver may need to remove the tissues causing your pain and inflammation (swelling). Having TMJ arthroscopy may help decrease your jaw pain and improve your jaw movement.



  • Keep a written list of the medicines you take, the amounts, and when and why you take them. Bring the list of your medicines or the pill bottles when you see your caregivers. Learn why you take each medicine. Ask your caregiver for information about your medicine. Do not use any medicines, over-the-counter drugs, vitamins, herbs, or food supplements without first talking to caregivers.
  • Always take your medicine as directed by caregivers. Call your caregiver if you think your medicines are not helping or if you feel you are having side effects. Do not quit taking your medicines until you discuss it with your caregiver. If you are taking medicine that makes you drowsy, do not drive or use heavy equipment.
  • Antibiotics: This medicine is given to fight or prevent an infection caused by bacteria. Always take your antibiotics exactly as ordered by your primary healthcare provider. Do not stop taking your medicine unless directed by your primary healthcare provider. Never save antibiotics or take leftover antibiotics that were given to you for another illness.
  • Narcotic medicine: This is a strong medicine for pain. Narcotic medicine may make you feel tired or sleepy. The medicine may also cause itchy skin and constipation (dry, hard stools). Narcotic medicines may only be given for a short period of time after your surgery. Do not wait to take your pain medicine until your pain is very bad. The medicine may not work as well at controlling your pain if you wait too long to take it.
  • Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory medicine: This family of medicine is also called NSAIDs. Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory medicine may help decrease pain and inflammation. This medicine can be bought with or without a doctor's order. This medicine can cause stomach bleeding or kidney problems in certain people. Always read the medicine label and follow the directions on it before using this medicine.

Follow-up visit information:

Ask your caregiver when to return for a follow-up visit. Keep all appointments. Write down any questions you may have. This way you will remember to ask these questions during your next visit.

Behavior modification:

Behavior modification therapy teaches you how to change behaviors that may have caused your TMJ problems. This therapy may help you avoid certain habits such as teeth clenching or too much gum chewing. You may also need to see a special caregiver to learn how to manage or avoid stress. Learning how to manage stress may decrease your risk of TMJ problems in the future.


You may need to eat a soft diet for a few days after your surgery. Your diet may be limited to foods that you do not need to chew. This includes liquids and pureed foods. Ask your caregiver for more information about what foods are best for you during your recovery.

Heat and ice:

You may use heat to decrease pain or swelling. Heat increases the blood flow to the TMJ area and helps with healing. Ice causes blood vessels to constrict (get small), which helps decrease swelling, pain, and redness. Ask your caregiver for more information on the correct way to apply ice and heat.

Mouth devices:

Mouth devices may be used to help your jaw heal properly and prevent teeth grinding or clenching. These devices may include mouth or bite guards, splints, or jaw orthotics. Ask your caregiver for more information about mouth devices.

Physical therapy:

You may need to do certain jaw exercises to improve your jaw movement and decrease your pain. A caregiver will show you how to move your jaw and strengthen the muscles around it.

Wound care:

Ask your caregivers how to care for your surgery site. Do not remove your bandage unless your caregiver says it is OK.


  • You feel dizzy or have trouble seeing.
  • You feel sick to your stomach or you start to throw up.
  • You have a fever or chills.
  • You have ear pain or trouble hearing.
  • Your incision is swollen, red, or has pus coming from it.
  • Your symptoms of your TMJ problem return such as jaw clicking, locking, and pain.
  • You have questions or concerns about your condition, medicine, or care.


  • You have pain that does not go away even after taking your medicines.
  • You have trouble moving the muscles in your face.

The above information is an educational aid only. It is not intended as medical advice for individual conditions or treatments. Talk to your doctor, nurse or pharmacist before following any medical regimen to see if it is safe and effective for you.

Further information

Always consult your healthcare provider to ensure the information displayed on this page applies to your personal circumstances.