Joint replacement surgery refers to the replacement of the articular disk of the temporomandibular joint. This disk is made of cartilage that rests between the jaw and the rest of the skull and which allows the jaw to move freely without creating any friction between the jawbone and the skull bones.
When the disk is damaged or displaced, the patient may experience pain or trouble chewing or speaking, or maybe even moving his or her jaw in any way. Depending on the severity of the condition, the pain could be so great as to affect the normal life of the patient.
The surgery involves a dentist who specializes in maxillodental surgery to remove the damaged or displaced disk, and replace it with cartilage from another area of the patient or with an artificial disk. The surgery is carried out under general anesthesia. After the surgery, the patient can walk out on his or her own, although rest is recommended for a day or two. In some cases, the patient will be asked to wear a mouthpiece and follow a liquid or soft diet for a few days.
The rate of success of this surgery is considered high. Still, it is typically a last resort, used only after other non-surgical, less invasive and expensive options have been exhausted.