Post-operative care is important following surgery. Our surgical treatment for TMJ is generally performed in the morning either in our rooms or Epworth Hospital, Waurn Ponds. Patients usually go home a few hours after surgery or after an overnight stay. Reviews are normally at one (1) week (for an open joint procedure) and two (2) weeks for an arthrocentesis or arthroscopy. From there, we schedule post-op follow-up appointments in our office at six (6) weeks and three (3) months.
There is often some bruising and swelling that accompanies TMJ surgery, and that is why follow-up appointments are so critical. We prescribe short-term courses of antibiotics and pain medications for our post-op patients. Typically, we suggest patients plan to take two (2) weeks off work, but many are ready to return to normal activities much sooner than that.
The three most important steps of recovery from TMJ surgery:
Our TMJ surgery patients are instructed to follow a fairly normal diet immediately after surgery. This is to keep the joint moving and prevent blood clots forming in the joint. Very chewy food, such as steak and pizza, is not recommended for at least four (4) weeks.
Our open TMJ surgery patients are instructed to use an oral therapy device five (5) times a day for six (6) months to hasten their recovery from their TMJ disorder. This device gently opens the mouth to achieve maximum mouth opening post-operatively.
Our TMJ surgery patients must want to do well in their recovery and follow their prescribed treatment plans to obtain optimum results. Attitude and a positive outlook are critical to a successful outcome.
Our goal for post-op TMJ surgery patients
Generally, TMJ specialists consider surgery a success if a patient experiences a decrease in pain and restoration of the ability to open the mouth from 30mm to 35mm (2—3 fingers stacked). We strive for, and usually achieve, an incisal opening of 40+mm.
And although there are no guarantees, our patients often report prompt relief from their TMJ pain. Our expectation is that our post-op patients will be able to return to a normal life, including everything from yawning to eating a steak, without the limitations imposed by TMJ pain.
To speak with a TMJ specialist concerning your medical needs, please contact Dr. Christopher McGrath today.