What is jaw joint replacement?

Jaw joint replacement (also known as TMJ replacement surgery) is a complex surgery that involves removing part or all of your jaw and replacing it with an artificial joint that’s custom-made for you. This surgery may be recommended following:

  • Severe cases of TMJ disorder.
  • Facial trauma or injury (for example, after a car accident)
  • Tumour removal
  • Serious infection of the jaw

TMJ dysfunction can limit your jaw movements and make day-to-day life very challenging. While jaw joint replacement is an invasive procedure that requires substantial recovery time, it can give you long-term relief from TMJ jaw pain and help you feel more confident in your appearance after injury or health problems.

Find out more about what happens during jaw joint replacement surgery below, as well as the success rates, side effects, and costs of this procedure.

Jaw joint replacement surgery FAQs

Learn more about the TMJ replacement operation, side effects, and recovery time in these frequently asked questions.

Replacement jaw joints usually last around 15-20 years. So it’s an excellent investment in your long-term oral health and a great way to restore a life free from TMJ pain.

To avoid early degradation or failure of your artificial jaw joint, get any dental issues checked out and treated as soon as you can.

After your procedure, you’ll stay in hospital for around a week so we can monitor your recovery and help with your jaw rehabilitation. You’ll then need to take some time off work to recover at home (the exact amount depends on the nature of your job and how you’re feeling).

You can speed up recovery by following your doctor’s aftercare instructions closely and eating only soft foods for around six weeks. Most patients start to feel fully recovered around 6-8 weeks after TMJ replacement.

Known side effects of this procedure include swelling, pain and discomfort after the general anaesthetic wears off.

There are a few other risks to be aware of, including:

  • Infection (this is a risk of any surgical procedure).
  • Allergic reaction to the artificial joint.
  • Facial weakness and numbness.
  • Abnormal bone and nerve tissue growth.
  • Injury to the ear.
  • Teeth misalignment. 

These potential complications are rare, but your surgeon will discuss them all with you in greater depth before your procedure.

You may be a suitable candidate for TMJ replacement surgery if:

  • You’ve sustained serious injuries to the jaw and/or face.
  • Some or all of your jaw bone has been removed as part of cancer treatment or a deep-seated bone infection.
  • You have a serious degenerative joint disease (for example, rheumatoid or psoriatic arthritis).
  • You have extreme and/or debilitating pain in your jaw (often including difficulty talking, chewing, and swallowing).

Yes, you’ll probably have a small scar in front of your ear following surgery. Your surgeons will do everything they can to minimise the appearance of this scar, and it should fade over time.

Jaw joint replacement costs

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Spread the cost of your medical treatment over several months with our finance options and medical payment plans. This is ideal for patients seeking the speed and comfort of private healthcare without significant upfront payments.


Use our self-payment options to get prompt care with the consultant of your choice. Patients looking for fast, efficient treatment without private health insurance are welcome to pay for treatment before their procedure.

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We welcome patients with private medical insurance from approved insurers, including Bupa, AXA, Aviva, and many more. Find out how to claim for your treatment with private health insurance to get optimum care and comfort.

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Learn more about TMJ replacement surgery

Understand more about surgical jaw joint replacement here.

TMJ surgery is a successful procedure for treating TMJ disorder in many cases. One study of 56 patients found that 89% of TMJ disorder patients had good or fair outcomes (based on stability, function, and pain) around 2.5 years after their jaw joint replacement surgery.

NHS waiting list times differ throughout the UK. You can expect to wait around 11 to 31 weeks for maxillofacial surgery in London. You can avoid these waiting lists by booking private jaw surgery at Harley Street Specialist Hospital.

In general, this surgery should only be performed once your jaw bones have stopped growing. For this reason, many surgeons will only perform jaw surgery if you’re 18 or older (except in some limited circumstances).

There’s not usually an upper age limit for jaw surgery.

Yes, getting your jaw joint replaced is a major surgery. It requires a few weeks of recovery time and some lifestyle changes for a while after your procedure (such as cutting down on smoking and eating soft foods).

As a result, replacement jaw joint surgery is usually only recommended in severe cases of TMJ dysfunction, or after all other TMJ treatment options have been exhausted.

TMJ disorder symptoms may warrant surgery if you can no longer live your life normally due to your condition. For example:

  • It’s extremely difficult to chew and swallow food.
  • You feel constant severe pain in your jaw.
  • Your pain is there all the time and seems to be getting worse.

There are other less invasive TMJ treatment options, so surgery is normally only recommended if other options have failed.

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