Patients with a painful clicking jaw could be spared major surgery thanks to a new ‘pinhole’ procedure that cures the condition with a single invisible stitch.
The £5,000 operation can be carried out as a day case and leaves no scars. Patients who may have suffered years of distressing discomfort are left pain-free within days.
Problems with the temporomandibular joints – the two areas that join the jaw to the rest of the skull – affect at least a third of all adults at some stage.
It can be due to muscle damage or, more commonly, because tiny discs of cartilage that sit within the joint slip out of place or deteriorate.
Cartilage is a tough, silky substance and the discs act as cushions, allowing smooth movement of the jaw.
Patients with a painful clicking jaw could be spared major surgery thanks to a new ‘pinhole’ procedure that cures the condition with a single invisible stitch. The £5,000 operation can be carried out as a day case and leaves no scars
If for some reason they move into the wrong position, the jaw can become locked. Symptoms include pain and a clicking or popping feeling when the jaw is used – while eating, for instance.
People who are double-jointed or who grind their teeth unconsciously – a condition known as bruxism – are more likely to be affected.
For most, symptoms will clear up on their own. Simple jaw exercises also help, while some people may use a mouthguard that gently moves the jaw into place at night.
However, some patients endure relentless pain and discomfort. A procedure, during which the joint is flushed out with fluid, helps in up to 80 per cent of cases.
But for the remainder, open surgery to reposition the cartilage has previously been the only option.
Recovery from this can be uncomfortable and patients are left with a visible scar along the jawline.
The new 20-minute procedure, developed in the United States and now being offered privately in the UK, is carried out through needle incisions of just a few millimetres in the