Surgical TMJ treatment remains a controversial approach for many reasons. Since the first wave of attempts at surgical treatment for the condition yielded poor results starting in the 1970s, there have been many advances in the field, but it is not generally recommended for three reasons:
- Surgery causes irreversible changes to the jaw joint
- No long-term clinical trials to study the effectiveness of surgery
- No clear guidelines on who is the best candidate for surgery
Replacement of the jaw joint with implants can be particularly problematic, resulting in permanent damage, jaw pain, and destruction of the implant over time. As recently as 2011, the FDA announced that it had received an alarming number of reports of people who had their implant replaced within three years after implantation due to extreme jaw pain. However, the previously poor record hasn’t stopped people from continuing to innovate within the field. One of the most recent efforts is the Mayo Clinic’s attempt at a new TMJ implant, recently approved for manufacturing by the FDA.
The New Implant
The new implant was designed by doctors at the Mayo Clinic for patients with osteoarthritis, the type of arthritis that develops when the cartilage in a joint degrades due to wear and tear. The targeted patients for this medical device are those whose cartilage has completely worn through in their temporomandibular joint, resulting in plain bone to bone contact.
The implant is a partial joint replacement, designed to replace part of the bone and the jaw’s cartilage. It’s described as a nonanatomic implant, one that is designed to replace the joint’s pieces functionally, not in form. Each implant will be custom-made for each patient.
Before the current approval, the implant was tested in a small clinical series–60 individuals–that showed promising results.
Nonsurgical TMJ Treatment
The new implant notwithstanding, TMJ surgery has a long and poor record. Before you consider surgery of any kinds, it’s important to consider all your nonsurgical options. A neuromuscular dentist at Smile Columbia Dentistry can help you learn more about your treatment options and which might be right for you, rather than having you select surgery just because you didn’t know there were better options.
To learn more about the TMJ treatment options we offer, please contact Smile Columbia Dentistry in Columbia, SC today.