Post-operative care is important following surgery. Our surgical treatment for TMJ is generally performed in the afternoon at a local surgery center in the Gainesville area. Patients usually go home a few hours after surgery or after an overnight stay. We then see patients in the office the day after surgery and two weeks later to remove their stitches. From there, we schedule post-op follow-up appointments in our office at 6 weeks and 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 2 weeks off work, but many are ready to return to normal activities much sooner than that.
The 3 most important steps of recovery from TMJ surgery:
Our TMJ surgery patients are instructed to follow a liquid diet for the first two weeks after their operation. At 3–4 weeks post-op, patients move to very soft foods (scrambled eggs, etc.), then soft foods with more substance for 2 weeks, and ultimately return to their normal diet at 6 weeks post-op.
Our TMJ surgery patients are instructed to use an oral therapy device 5 times a day for 6 months to hasten their recovery from their TMJ disorder. This device gently opens the mouth to achieve maximum mouth opening postoperatively.
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 30 mm to 35 mm (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. Fred Simonton today.