Although in the US, the FDA has recently recommended increased scrutiny for temporomandibular joint replacements, in the UK, the National Institute for Healthcare Excellence (NICE) has just lifted restrictions on the procedure, allowing it to be used on a regular basis without the need for special arrangements by a doctor. However, the procedure remains recommended only for use in cases of extreme TMJ, when surgical interventions are required.
This new recommendation is a revision of previous guidance issued in 2009 on the use of total joint replacements in the treatment of TMJ. At that time, they said that the evidence supporting the use of prosthetic jaw joints was not supported by enough evidence for NICE to determine that it was both safe and effective.
However, over the past five years, NICE has been receiving data from physicians across the country who have used the device, and now it says the data supports the use of the devices in the treatment of TMJ.
Will the FDA Come to a Similar Conclusion?
Although it had previously approved temporomandibular joint replacements, the FDA became alarmed at how often the implants had to be removed because of pain and other complications. They didn’t revoke the approval for these devices or ask that they be removed from the market, but they did ask that manufacturers keep closer track of them and collect better data about how well they were working, something that is easier to do in Britain because they have more comprehensive device databases.
The FDA hasn’t made any further decisions about the state of these devices in the US.
Treat TMJ Early to Avoid Surgery
TMJ is a progressive condition. It typically starts out causing jaw pain or headaches, sometimes with other signs like tooth wear, jaw popping, and more. It may seem like just a nuisance at first, but as it develops, the jaw joint may begin to degrade.
The cushioning cartilage in the joint may be damaged, worn, or may lose the ability to slip back into place. The bone may then be subjected to wear that leads to excessive pain, which can prevent a person from using their jaw normally. At this point, surgery is necessary.
However, earlier interventions can slow, reduce, or altogether eliminate damage to the jaw joint, postponing the need for surgery, and, in some cases, preventing it altogether.