When you develop various symptoms like unexplained headaches, ringing ears, sinus problems, and sleep issues but your trip to the doctor produces nothing but an assurance that you are in the pink of health, wouldn’t it sound encouraging? It is supposed to. But you are not satisfied because you know there is something wrong with you.
And what are the odds that what you really need is a dentist or an orthodontist and not a medical doctor? If you have not heard about TMJ disorder, then it is high time you do.
The TMJ or the temporomandibular joint is the joint located between your jaw and skull.
There are instances when you develop the TMJ disorder or TMD due to a lot of factors including misalignment of the teeth or even jaw or injury to them, arthritis, teeth grinding, and they can even be associated with stress.
Some TMDs are tolerable that they can be treated with lesser invasive methods such as taking some pain relievers, therapies, or the use of mouth guards or splints. But there are certain levels of pain that can no longer be tolerated and can affect the quality of life that you may start considering more aggressive treatment such as surgery.
There are three categories of TMJ Disorder based on the causes and symptoms. These are the following:
- Myofascial pain
- Internal derangement of the joint
- Inflammatory joint disease
These three categories are the basis of the kind of surgery that you may need. But the question is how much does TMJ surgery cost and what type of surgery do you actually need if you actually need one.
Average Cost of TMJ Surgery
There are several types of surgery that can address TMJ issues, the choice of which depends on each patient’s situation or condition.
Please see the various TMJ disorder treatments and their price ranges below so you would have an idea.
Types of Treatment
Average Time of Treatment
Average Cost of Treatment
$1,400 to $4,000
$75 to $7,000
$75 to $7,000
2 weeks to 1 year
$400 to $20,000
2 to 3 years
$3,000 to $5,000
Oral & Maxillofacial
$20,000 to $50,000
$20,000 to $50,000
On the other hand, below are the TMJ Articular Disorders that are managed and oftentimes recommended for surgical intervention:
- Internal derangements or the disc displacement disorders
- Non-inflammatory or the non-infective degenerative disorders and post traumatic degeneration
- Inflammatory diseases such as osteomyelitis, synovitis, lupus, psoriasis, and rheumatoid arthritis
Some of the TMJ surgeries and their costs that your doctor may recommend are the following:
- Arthrocentesis – $300 and up
Arthrocentesis is considered the most conservative type of TMD surgery. This is an office-based procedure for patients with misplaced discs which involves the placement of two hypodermic needles into the superior joint space to remove the damaged tissue and accumulated fluid by washing the joint with a sterile solution.
- Arthroscopy – $5,000 per joint
Also called arthroscopic surgery, this minimally invasive surgery uses an arthroscope or an endoscope that is inserted into the joint through a tiny incision to examine or to treat damage that includes some root causes of TMD.
- Arthroplasty – as a basis, a hand and knee arthroplasty costs $5,000 to $15,000
Also referred to as arthrotomy, this is an open joint surgery for patients who have intolerable and intractable pain brought by TMD and is performed through an incision in front of the ear. This is often recommended for patients with failed pain management, non-invasive treatments, or arthroscopic surgery. This is also recommended for patients with bony intracapsular ankylosis.
- Orthognathic surgery – $20,000 to $40,000
This is a corrective surgery which realigns the jaws, teeth, and other skeletal and dental irregularities.
- Joint replacement – $38,000 to $67,000
This is where artificial orthopedic devices are used to replace the joint that has become painful or damaged or both. These devices are called TMJ prosthetics which are considered a ball and socket joints. This is often recommended as a last resort to severe or late-stage degenerative changes to the joint making it unable to function well.
What are Included
Surgery is considered the last option when all other treatments and pain managements have failed to alleviate the symptoms especially the pain.
Why last resort you would ask? That is because the experts often advise you against surgery as much as possible because there is no guarantee that it would 100% eliminate TMD and its symptoms. That is not to say that it is not effective because it is. What experts try to say is that you should understand the risks because whatever happens in the operating room is irreversible so be sure to ask everything from your surgeon.
Typical TMJ surgery involves the removal of the diseased or malfunctioning tissue, cleaning and smoothing the bone surfaces that have been affected by arthritis, repositioning the same, and the removal and replacement of the discs.
Prior to the surgery proper, a surgical assessment or work up would typically include:
- Assessment of the nature of your TMD as well as the complete history of all the treatments availed to date.
- Different scans to include dental panoramic radiograph, CT Scan, MRI, and even bone scan.
- A thorough assessment of all the risks that may be present in the patient during and after the operation.
For the actual surgery, although may vary in scope depending on the facility you chose, may include the following”
- Facility Services
This is the cost for using the hospital operating room or any type of surgery room including its tools, machines, and equipment.
- Professional fee of the surgeon
This includes the doctor’s charge for the procedure as well as postoperative care if included in the package price.
This includes the average anesthesia required to last the prescribed duration of the surgery.
Other TMJ Treatments
TMJ has been a gray area in the medical field for a long time. It is actually a dental problem that manifests itself medically as its symptoms mimic those which are manifestations of a lot of sickness or illness in the medical field. That is why up to now, medical insurance companies are so reluctant in covering them. And mind you, there is not a single profession dedicated to its treatment and would need a lot of specialists to address a lot of its issues.
Aside from the surgery, other options may be considered in treating the disorder which may be less aggressive and non-invasive. Some of the TMJ treatment costs are the following:
- Cost of physical therapy – $50 to $300 per session
- Cost for TMJ splint including examination and fitting – $2,000
Other options include:
- Botox injection
- Pain management
- Acupuncture – $50 to $70 per session
Shopping for TMJ Surgery
When looking for the right person to treat the TMJ disorder, your dentist would likely know someone who can help you through their network so you may ask for a referral.
Factors Affecting TMJ Surgery Cost
Cause – the dentist or orthodontist would first find out the cause of the TMD so he or she can recommend the kind of surgery needed and to ensure that the TMJ is causing the problem and not anything else.
Severity – aside from the cause, the dentist would also be able to know the severity of the condition as there are surgeries that depend on the level of the disorder. The more severe the condition, the more invasive surgery is required.
The level of misalignment – the severity of the TMD would also be apparent in the misalignment of the jaw. If you have developed a certain level of jaw misalignment, you are like be a candidate for surgery to correct the issue, the type of which would depend on how misaligned the jaw is.
Symptoms – the symptoms would also be a basis of the surgery. These symptoms vary depending on what causes them.
The surgeon – the TMJ treatment cost would also be affected by the experience and expertise of the surgeon or orthodontist.
Location – the pricing would always be dependent on the cost of living and cost of doing business in a particular area.
Insurance – most insurance companies would be reluctant to cover TMJ treatments because of its nature as they seem to be a dental issue with medical manifestations, although there are those who would cover them especially dental insurance. Talk to your insurance provider about this so you would know what to expect to pay come billing time.
Financing plans – if you are not insured or your insurance does not cover the TMJ treatments and you are short on the budget, talk to your dentist or orthodontist for any payment options as some would be willing to extend financing plans for their patients. You may also avail of some medical credit card or medical loans that have much lower rate than the usual.