Oral Maxillofacial Surgery | After Arthrocentesis in Carmel

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After Arthrocentesis

You have undergone temporomandibular joint arthrocentesis (washing of your joint).  This handout is designed to explain your postoperative course, limitations and what to expect.

A small bandage will be placed over your surgical site. This should remain in place for two to three days following your surgery.

A small amount of blood may be noted on the bandage. This is normal. The bandage can be removed after day three.

You will experience soreness for 2 - 4 days on average. You may shower or take a bath and wash your hair when the drowsy effects of the anesthesia have worn off. The small bandages may be removed and the incision areas may be left uncovered.

It is not a problem if the injection areas get wet when you are bathing.?It is uncommon, but possible, that you may have some numbness or muscle weakness in the areas of surgery. If this does occur, it should be temporary and resolve without treatment.

On rare occasion, you may experience fluid in the ears. This feels like a swimmer's ear and can last for about 2 - 4 days. Also, on rare occasion, dizziness can accompany this situation. The feeling of fluid in the ears, if it does occur, will usually resolve itself without any definitive treatment.

Some swelling and bruising in the area is expected. This is usually minor, but occasionally more pronounced swelling can occur. If this happens, it is usually a result of sterile irrigation fluid that has entered surrounding tissues, and most of the swelling will resolved within 24 - 36 hours. Ice may be applied to the area for the first 2 days after the procedure.

You will be sent home with an anti-inflammatory and pain medication. It is important that you take the anti-inflammatory medication as instructed. The pain medication needs only to be taken as necessary.


For six weeks following surgery, you diet should consist of a soft diet as chewing may disrupt the joint and can cause problems.

The diet does not need to be limited to liquids, but the consistency should be that of scrambled eggs, cottage cheese, pasta, egg salad, and other soft foods that do not require heavy chewing. Dr. Alderman will discuss the advancement of your particular diet during your postoperative visits.


You should begin jaw exercises no later than three days following your surgery.  These are stretching exercises to reduce stiffness in the joint associated with the surgery. If you were working with a Physical Therapist before surgery, you should continue to do so afterwards. These exercises are critical for the success of the procedure.

The following set of exercises need to be performed five or six times a day for 4 - 5 minutes each time:

1. With the index finger of your right hand on the lower teeth in the left side of your lower jaw and your thumb on your upper front teeth, use firm finger pressure in a scissors-like fashion to increase the opening of your mouth. The best method is to open your mouth as wide as you can, then place your fingers in your mouth, as just described, and perform the exercise.

2. Move your lower jaw as far to the right as possible. Then, move your lower jaw as far to the left as possible. Repeat this 25 times. You should be moving your lower jaw about 1/8 of an inch to each side by 2 days after the surgery and about 3/8 of an inch to each side by the sixth day after surgery. It may be necessary for you to apply pressure to the sides of your lower jaw with one of your hands to aid in doing this exercise.

3. Move your lower jaw forward, then return to the normal resting position of your lower jaw.

Repeat this 20 times. By the second week after the surgery, you should be able to move your lower jaw forward, so that your lower front teeth are in front of your upper front teeth.

Please remember that everyone is different and some people are able to achieve these goals sooner than others, while for others it takes longer.


You should also continue to wear your splint after surgery.  If you are unable to place it back in immediately, you should resume splint therapy no later the third day following surgery.

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