The recovery time period after TMJ surgery varies based on the condition of each patient
and the type of procedure which was performed. Unlike more invasive surgeries, most TMJ
surgeries are actually outpatient procedures and the patient should be able to go home the same day after their procedure is complete. However, it is vital for all patients to come with a guardian
the day of the procedure because they will be unable to drive in the hours following the
administration of anesthetics.
In 2015, Dr. Pushkar Mehra, BDS, DMD and Dr. Varun Arya, BDS, DMD undertook a
study of the effects of anesthesia and postoperative outcomes for arthrocentesis patients. The oral
surgeons studied the effectiveness of intravenous sedation compared to general anesthesia with a
secure airway. Their evaluation of both anesthesia techniques indicates that patients who had
undergone general anesthesia reported a 95% rate of satisfaction while patients undergoing IV
sedation reported an 80% satisfaction rate. The study follows through with patients following
their procedures, and they mention that “97% of patients reported immediate resolution/reduction
of pain within the first postoperative week.” In a separate study by Dr. Dorit Nitzan in 1991, the
overall success rate for arthrocentesis surgeries to treat TMJ was 91.8%.
While the patient will not feel any pain during the procedure, they are likely to feel mild
to moderate pain in the days following TMJ surgery. The most common symptoms include pain
and tenderness around the site of the incision. The patient may also be advised to follow a liquid
diet for a time period following the surgery. An arthroscopy is the least invasive surgical
procedure for TMJ, and the recovery time is normally 2 days to 1 week. An arthroplasty involves
a repair or replacement of the articular disc for the jaw joint and it typically requires a hospital
stay. The recovery time for an arthroplasty will be 2-3 weeks before the patient can resume
eating normal foods. In contrast, an arthrotomy is an invasive procedure for treating TMJ and
patients typically have to stay in the hospital for 3-5 days following the operation and endure a
recovery period as long as 6-8 weeks.