The Gentler Method For Repairing Juvenile Rheumatoid Arthritis-Induced TMD

If you have temporomandibular disorder due to having juvenile arthritis as a child, you may be experiencing pain and stiffness in your jaw. While this damage could traditionally only be repaired with major oral surgery, surgeons have created a more gentle and gradual method that may be helpful to you without having to experience a long recovery period. This guide will explain how the jaw becomes damaged from JRA, how it would be traditionally repaired, and how this gentler method works.

How JRA Harms The Jaw

Juvenile rheumatoid arthritis causes problems in the temporomandibular joint because it can alter the normal growth of the jaw and joint. Instead of the jaw growing evenly, the two sides of the jaw may not develop at the same speed, leading to a crooked jaw. This puts pressure on the joint and prevents it from working properly as a hinge, which may reduce the mobility of the jaw, or simply cause pain.

Traditional Repair

If you have this variety of TMD, your jaw may be noticeably crooked or asymmetrical. Traditionally, surgeons would fix this problem by cutting the bone in your jaw and resetting it so that both sides were of equal length. The bone or bones that were too short would have a replacement part added in its place, like a titanium plate.

While this method is still effective, it's painful and can take a very long time to recover from. In addition, the jaw has to be wired shut while it heals to make sure that the bones heal properly.

Distraction Osteogenesis

Distraction osteogenesis is a type of bone modification procedure that can take the place of more traumatic versions of surgery. Instead of immediately breaking the bone, a surgeon installs a small device that is designed to create micro-fractures in the jaw bone. The device is adjusted to create a micro-fracture of 1mm per adjustment, which doesn't induce much pain at all.

Additionally, instead of having to use an artificial replacement for the bone, these micro-fractures are healed naturally by the body. Your body will grow new bone matter to repair the fractures, so no plates or screws are required.

Distraction osteogenesis is a great choice to fix a crooked jaw that puts pressure on or limits mobility of a temporomandibular joint. If you're struggling with pain or stiffness in your jaw after having juvenile rheumatoid arthritis, talk to your dentist about this procedure. He or she may also be able to give you some additional reading on the topic.