Oral and Maxillofacial Surgeons:
Oral and maxillofacial surgeons are the only recognized dental specialists who, after completing dental school, are surgically trained in an American Dental Association-accredited hospital-based residency program for a minimum of four years. They train alongside medical residents in internal medicine, general surgery and anesthesiology, otolaryngology, plastic surgery, emergency medicine and other speciality areas. Their training focuses almost exclusively on the hard (ie, bone) and soft (ie, skin, muscle) tissue of the face, mouth and jaws. Their knowledge and surgical expertise uniquely qualify them to diagnose and treat the functional and esthetic conditions in this anatomical area. The scope of oral and maxillofacial surgery practices includes, among others:
- Outpatient Anesthesia
- Dentoalveolar Surgery to manage diseases of the teeth and their supporting soft and hard tissues
- Surgical Corrections of Maxillofacial Skeletal Deformities
- Cleft and Craniofacial Surgery
- Facial Trauma Surgery
- Temporomandibular Joint Surgery
- Pathologic Conditions, such as head and neck cancer
- Facial Reconstructive Surgery
- Facial Cosmetic Surgery
The Role of the Oral and Maxillofacial Surgeon
When symptoms of TMJ trouble appear, an oral and maxillofacial surgeon should be consulted. A specialist in the areas of the mouth, teeth and jaws, the oral and maxillofacial surgeon is uniquely educated and trained to correctly diagnose the problem.
Range of Possible Treatment
TMJ treatment ranges from conservative dental and medical care to complex surgery. Depending on the diagnosis, treatment may include short-term, non-steroidal, anti-inflammatory drugs for pain and muscle relaxation, a bite plate or splint therapy and even stress management counseling. Generally, if non-surgical treatment is unsuccessful or if there is clear joint damage, surgery may be indicated. Surgery can involve either arthroscopy (the method identical to the orthopedic procedures used to inspect and treat larger joints such as the knee) or repair of damaged tissue by a direct surgical approach. Once TMJ disorders are correctly diagnosed, appropriate treatment can be provided.