BILATERAL TMJ REPLACEMENT SURGERY: JILL JOHNSON'S RECOVERY PERIOD
(April 21, 2010 - Sky Ridge Medical Center)
I have created this page for a couple of reasons. Foremost, I wish to thank the many people that helped me to receive surgery and to now be on my way to more enjoyable living. Particularly helpful were Dr. Robert W. Christensen of TMJ Implants, Inc., and Milton and Renée Glass of TMJ-JJAMD Foundation, and Dr. Randolph Robinson of Robinson Cosmetic Surgery, all of whom have spent years advocating for TMJ Patients and their right to appropriate medical care. Also, this page is hoped to help other TMJ sufferers to understand what they may expect during recovery should they need surgery, though, of course, each patient is unique. Best Wishes to All!
SURGEON - RANDOLPH ROBINSON, M.D., D.D.S. OF ROBINSON COSMETIC SURGERY, LONE TREE, COLORADO
ASSISTANT SURGEON - JAMES CURRY. D.D.S. (Retired)
RIGHT PARTIAL & LEFT TOTAL IMPLANT CREATED BY TMJ IMPLANTS, INC. (Now, TMJ MEDICAL, INC.), GOLDEN, COLORADO
ROBERT W. CHRISTENSEN, D.D.S., FAIMBE - FOUNDER TMJ IMPLANTS, INC. (Retired)
MILTON AND RENÉE GLASS OF JJAMD (JAW JOINTS & ALLIED MUSCULO-SKELETAL DISORDERS).
TWO NONPROFIT ORGANIZATIONS DEDICATED TO HELPING THE IMPOVERISHED WITH FACIAL DISORDERS
FACE THE CHALLENGE OPERATION SMILE
Right TMJ feels better, already, but I realize that the healing process will take a while. I believe both surgeons involved (Dr. Randolph Robinson and Dr. James Curry) are top-notch and I feel fortunate to have had them as my surgeons.
DAY 2 AFTER SURGERY
Bruised and swollen, but I have two functional jaw-joints for the first time in years. I am very excited! My right TMJ still feels noticeably improved compared to prior to surgery, and despite medications' influence. My left side is very painful though it feels rather numb.
DAY 4 AFTER SURGERY
The swelling continues to go down slowly, and the left side continues to have great pain. I am prescribed pain-medication (Oxycodone 5mg., 1-2 every 3 hours) and ice-packs to help the pain. I have taken, semi-consistently, about 1 Oxycodone every 3 hours and am also taking, as prescribed, steroids to reduce swelling, as well as antibiotics for precaution against infection.
DAY 7 AFTER SURGERY
The swelling continues to decrease and though I sure hurt, I am encouraged. I am using a lounge-chair as a bed so to keep my head elevated and, yes, it's in front of the television. Hey! Does that count as being a couch-potato?
Suddenly I am having difficulty closing my left eye. It is dropping, too, but likely this is not an unexpected possible side-effect. Because there is some movement to the left eye, I think its strength will return sooner, rather than later. Both eyes are sensitive to light. I definitely need the pain-medication, for now. Dr. Andrew Mohler is helping me to manage the pain. I am starting to chew soft foods and notice that Dr. Christensen's implants are such that my molars fit together when closing my mouth for the first time since my right TMJ dislocated in October, 2007.
DAY 10 AFTER SURGERY
The bruising is beginning to disappear and my left eye is getting stronger. Both eyes are still sensitive to light and the swelling continues to go down on both sides. I had my left eye uncovered for about six hours, today, before it felt strained. I got some sleep, last night, and the morning pain felt less severe than on yesterday morning. I still need pain-medication but things are improving.
DAY 12 AFTER SURGERY
Okay, it is the middle of the night and I won't kid you, the total implant (left) side really hurts! The partial implant (right) side doesn't and I am amazed and optimistic. I make effort to take less than prescribed pain-medication during the day, though at night I seem to make up for it. It is important to create a suitable sleep (bedding) place. A recliner helped my head to stay elevated, as the surgeon advised. Make sure your recliner also provides adequate support for the rest of your body.
DAY 18 AFTER SURGERY
The left eye's apparent Bells Palsy seems better by the day, though annoying and obviously making it hard to be photogenic. (ha!) The bruising is gone and the right side still feels very good. The left side is still slightly swollen and is quite painful. I am sleeping on my bed, now, though additional pillows do seem to be required. I am chewing better, too, and am able to open my mouth just a bit more, each day. Dr. Christensen's implants have saved my life, surely.
MAY - JUNE: 1-2 MONTHS AFTER SURGERY
I saw Dr. Robinson and he said that I did get Bell's Palsy on the left side, affecting, particularly, my left eye. He said that Bell's Palsy is a rare side-effect, but that it clears up pretty quickly. The pain on the left side seems to be getting worse and I am nervous about it. My gums (on the left side) and some of my teeth have been sore since surgery. I wonder if the sore teeth are due to the fact that my back teeth now fit together and hadn't for years. Perhaps the teeth are sore because they getting used to being used, again. This is just my theory, but due to the extra pain and sudden added swelling on the left side my Family Physician prescribed antibiotics just to be on the safe side. I will return to eating only soft foods, for a while, to see if that helps relieve the teeth and gum pain, and to help the left TMJ more slowly adjust to the new situation. If the pain is not better by tomorrow, I will call Dr. Robinson, again, and hopefully he can consult with me, next week.
JULY: 3 MONTHS AFTER SURGERY
The right TMJ has no pain except the normal tingling that follows surgery. My left TMJ still hurts quite badly and the lower left mandible is still swollen. Because the left side has a total implant, I understand that my face will always look slightly fatter than will the right side. Below is a recent photo. Though the photo is blurry (I need a new camera), I felt well enough to go camping with friends. I have switched from ice-packs to a heating pad though, for most hours of the day, placed on the left side of my face as the left side's pain is yet intense. The palsy on the left side seems nearly healed. I see Dr. Robinson again, soon. I fear there is nerve damage (I think damage to these nerves is referred to as "Trigeminal Neuralgia?"). I know this was a complicated surgery that has, like all surgeries, possible side-effects, yet I do feel amazed at how brave, bright and compassionate the doctors involved were in helping me. Oh, by the way, friends are offering me new names to choose from. Here's a few, just for laughs: "Jaw-Menator," "Jill-of-Steel," "Jilly-bot," and my favorite, yet, "Metal-head." (ha!)
SEPTEMBER-OCTOBER: 5-6 MONTHS AFTER SURGERY
Sure enough, it is nerve damage that is causing the steady pain on the left side. Apparently one or more of the Trigeminal nerves were caught between the mandible and the implant. Dr. Robinson did another on the left side. He tucked the suspect left Trigeminal nerve underneath a muscle. This surgery should make the left side of my face numb (from the TMJ downward) and, thereby, relieve pain.
FEBRUARY, 2011: 10 MONTHS AFTER INITIAL BILATERAL TMJ REPLACEMENT
AND 4 MONTHS AFTER SECOND (NERVE) SURGERY
Both implants are working well. The right implant feels a total success. Following October's surgery, parts of my face (left mandibular teeth, gums, and lower mandible) did feel numb and with slightly less pain, but unfortunately this occurred only for a short while. I again followed doctor's orders and used an ice-pack to relieve pain, immediately following surgery. However, the pain rapidly increased to totally return, on the left side, also again causing that constantly feeling of coldness (not cold to the touch, but cold to me), so that I slowly have returned to using a heating pad (on high setting) for several hours per day. I, too, can now open my mouth less wide than I had immediately following the Bilateral Implant surgery, last April, 2010, and my right molars just don't fit together when I close my mouth unless I force them to by pushing up on my mandible. Since Dr. Christensen's company had custom-made my implants and they are working quite well, nerve damage is apparently the culprit of my bite being flawed. It seems evident that the nerve damage is causing the pain from slightly above the left implant and into my temple, down into my mandible, lower teeth and gums toward exact center of my chin. Dr. Robinson is having a splint made for me to wear, hoping that it will make my bite close correctly and relax the muscle on the left side of my face.
Honestly, I don't think Dr. Robinson's charged for my visits, which is kindly, though I feel bad that I can't afford to pay him, at this time. Of course, none of these doctors seem to want to discourage me with the specifics regarding rather or not they've been paid appropriately for their services. Considering Medicare and Medicaid's terrible disregard for TMJ conditions, I'm doubting very much that any involved in my treatments and/or surgeries earned what they are due and I absolutely believe our Government need confront our American Healthcare situation realistically so that doctors, dentists, and surgeons can, in fact, begin to care for the suffering. It is clearly a sad state of affairs.
MARCH, 2011: 11 MONTHS AFTER BILATERAL TMJ REPLACEMENT
AND 5 MONTHS AFTER SECOND (NERVE) SURGERY
The splint is helping relieve the pain, slightly, and relax the muscle, making it easier for my bite to close correctly. I am to see Dr. Robinson again, soon. I've yet no pain on the right side, but a great deal of pain on the left. Currently, I am prescribed pain-medication, anti-inflammatory medications (for both the nerves and the muscles).
MAY, 2011: 13 MONTHS AFTER BILATERAL TMJ REPLACEMENT
COMPLICATION = INFECTION ON LEFT SIDE, FOLLOWED BY REMOVAL OF LEFT TMJ IMPLANT
The pain on the left side just would not subside, and I suddenly awoke with another sudden infection. Dr. Robinson, with the assistance of Dr. Curry, felt it best to remove the left implant so that I can heal from the infection. They did this next surgery on May 27, 2011, and I felt relief immediately. It seems clear that I do not have permanent nerve-damage as the removal of the implant relieved the pain. The infection is gone and I will get the implant back in (another surgery), semi-soon. Dr. Robinson wired my teeth together for a few weeks, which was unpleasant, but necessary, and has now removed the wires. I am eating, though the right teeth do not close together, properly, quite yet. I hope that the more I chew, the stronger the muscles will get on the right side of my face so that I will be able to, eventually, get my bite to close. In the meantime, and once again, I am greatly indebted to Dr. Robinson, Dr. Curry, and to all who have helped me with this great challenge. I understand, completely, that my condition was such that the possible, and actual, nerve-damage that I had was not much of a shock to me. I believe that our American Leaders need recognize how current insurance guidelines regarding TMJ and other facial deformities and illness are causing citizens to become debilitated, which in turn is causing Social Service and Unemployment funding to further deplete. The mere thought of others' TMJs deteriorating to the point mine has directly due to insurance limitations is heartbreaking. I will update this page following my next (and hopefully last) implant surgery.
FEELING SO MUCH BETTER! (PHOTO OF MY SON, ELLIOT, WITH ME) JUNE, 2011
Thank You so Very Much to the doctors who have helped me, to my friends and family who have encouraged me, and ....
TO ALL YET SUFFERING FROM TMJ, HANG-IN-THERE AND BLESS YOUR HEARTS!...
BEFORE SURGERY X-RAY
AFTER SURGERY X-RAYS, BELOW (HOORAY FOR JAW-JOINTS!)
note: Plate in Neck is Unrelated to this Surgery. Dr. John Nichols of Intermountain Neurosurgery is another great surgeon. He saved me after I had suffered from extreme neck pain for years and years. I will ever recommend Dr. Nichols to all who suffer neurological illness. Please click this paragraph to learn more about this great doctor.
HERE TO SEE A PARTIAL LIST OF People and Organizations I have contacted,
Please learn of the plight of
TMJD (Temporomandibular Joint Disorder) patients at the following websites:
Please learn of the plight of TMJD (Temporomandibular Joint Disorder) patients at the following websites:
TMJ/TMJD JJAMD, INC. TMJ MEDICAL, INC. ROBINSON COSMETIC SURGERY
Please Provide Feedback by Telling Your Own Story (look to the left of the below link) at
JJAMD FOUNDATION was successful in 1988 getting Congressman Barney Frank to inaugurate and read into Congress this Proclamation:
"JAW JOINTS - TMJ AWARENESS MONTH" ® is Trademarked by JJAMD, INC.
Target: Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services, 7500 Security Blvd., Baltimore MD 21244-1850
Sponsored by: Jill Johnson
We the undersigned petition for Medicare and Medicaid guideline changes regarding TMJ-TMJD (Temporomandibular Joint Disorder) as current rules incorrectly insist TMJ-TMJD is a dental rather than medical condition and because of this thousands are not receiving the medical care they desperately need. Damage to the jaw-joint is as painful and debilitating as damage can be to any other joint and Medicare and Medicaid need recognize the devastation and dysfunction TMJ-TMJD can cause to people's lives. Please recognize that jaw-joint health is part of total body and mind health and help those suffering from this condition to have hope for treatment and pain-relief by convincing whoever writes the insurance guidelines of this truth and of the urgent need for guideline reform.
Thank You for taking the time to read this letter.
#71 Nov Sarah Lovelace, CO
#70 Oct 29 Sandra Tabor, TX
#69 Sep 30 Christopher Webb, GA
#68 Sep 17 Michael Holliday, PA
I have a torn disc in my jaw bone. Causes me excruciating pain every day of my life. ATM I am on Medicare. I am in so much pain everyday , if I had this procedure done I may feel a bit more productive with my life. Pretty stupid not taking care of a medical procedure that can be easily remedied and relieve a person of a lot of pain that they may have to endure for the rest of their lives without the procedure.
# 67 Aug 19 Brenda Jones, PA
#66 Aug 14 Alamzeb Akhund, Pakistan
My Daughter suffers Daily with TMJ, Severely Impacts her Health !!Insurances Need to Include all facets of health, There should be NO SEPARATION of DENTAL & MEDICAL PERIOD... All should be covered Because One Affects the other, Health is Health.. This world is so screwed up... Please cover TMJ and other facial Dental problems.
#64 May 30 Bebe Brawley, OK
My daughter who is on Medicare has TMJ, it is VERY painful & I have seen her in horrific pain from this to the point of unbearable. She has mouth guards, etc. insurance didn't pay for which are VERY costly. 750.00 for one & 395.00 for a smaller one. She has her first tmj appointment Monday, doesn't look like much help from her insurance. Out of pocket...people who are on Medicare aren't getting rich & its hard to pay the total out of pocket which is VERY costly. This isn't right, if she broke her foot, neck, etc. insurance would cover it. Wake up people this is a poor excuse to treat people like this. COVER TMJ!
Name not displayed, WA
Cheryl Meyers, NY
Mike Moore, United Kingdom
Name not displayed, RI
Jessica Dijkstra, MI
Christine Terry, CA
Richard Hollister, AZ
Kevin Olheiser, MN
Jennifer Eubanks, CO
Courtney Perrine, CA
Name not displayed, ME
I am on Medicare because I am disabled and now I have TMJ to add to my other medical problems. If any one had it, they would take it more seriously. It is definitely a serious medical condition that should be covered by insurance. Anything that causes chronic pain should be fixed, if possible. It is possible, but most Americans cannot afford the treatment. If people can be helped and we have treatments, then why not allow coverage of such treatments? There are times to be conservative, but not when it involves people's lives and could help relieve pain.
Kathyrn Lawson, CO
Name not displayed, CO
Del Owens, ID
Karen J. Jones, CO
Wendell G. Lawrence Lawrence, CO
Toni Clark, CO
Barb Zonitch, FL
Kenneth Relaford, OK
Chris Daugaard, UT
Suzanne Calligaro, CO
jaw joint is a bone joint. If Jill had broken her arm or hip bone, Medicaid
would cover it. Not to cover this bone problem with Medicaid is just stupid and
makes no sense.
Kevin Green, CO
Harold Snider, CO
John Casper, ID
Dave Thomas, CO
Paul V. Siebenrock, WA
Sarah Ellis, ID
Liam Foley, Ireland
Connie Hearn, TX
Connie Vialpando, OR
I personally had some problems with TMJ. It was not a bad case like Jill and others have, but it was and is agonizing. Eating can be horrible when you have extreme problems with it. Please help these people.
Name not displayed, CO
Jay Johnston, CO
The jaw joint is part of anyone's whole health. When damaged, it hurts! Healthcare Reform need consider TMJ (jaw joint disorder) as a true medical condition that clearly, for much of the time, dentistry cannot provide necessary care for. Jill is my friend and I know she's hurting. Current TMJ-D guidelines are ridiculous!
Caroline Countryman, CO
I have witnessed, firsthand, Jill's need for pain relief and treatment/surgery, for she is a close friend of mine, and because of her experience, I've learned of the need for medical insurances, The American Medical Association, and other medical and dental associations to regard the jaw joint (the Temporomandibular joint) as a part of whole-body health. Rules regarding TMJ-Disorder are overdue to recognize this and make the humane choice of insurance coverage for patients.
Kenneth Rash, WA
Martha Leahy, MA
Dan Barber, CO
Name not displayed, CO
Shelley Jo Graham, WY
LK Gertsch, CO
Stan Nicoleta Andrea, Romania
#23 Jan 13 Robert W. Christensen, CO
an Oral and Maxillofacial Surgeon and more recently Founder and President of TMJ
Implants, Inc., I have been intimately involved in the diagnosis and surgical
treatment of serious TMJ Disease, whether of a congenital, traumatic or
degenerative nature, for the past 60 years. I was the innovator, some 50 years
ago, of the Christensen Partial and Total TMJ Implants for the reconstruction of
the temporomandibular joint. These were the earliest U.S. Patented TMJ devices
and they are used daily in surgeries across the U.S. and Europe. They have
functioned very well over the past 50 years and behave much like any other human
joint when reconstructed (i.e, hip, knee, shoulder, etc.).
Mark Sweet, WY
#21 Jan 12 Kaylan Vialpando, ID
Not all TMJ is equal. Simple "popping of the jaw" should not be in the same (and dismissed) category as degenerated jaw joint. It's very painful and people shouldn't have to suffer like this.
Beth Whitman, WY
Cynthia Pillow, OK
Gary Smith, CO
Kenneth Esquivel, AZ
Shauneen Kolesarek, NV
Rebecca Stover, AZ
Debbie Lee, AL
Mike Feenaughty, SC
Angelica Rivera, NY
Natasa Moulou, Greece
Kate Medvedeva, Ukraine
Name not displayed, CO
Nona Burnett, LA
you have experienced TMJ or TMJD, you have NO idea what this painful medical
condition can do! IT IS NOT SIMPLY A DENTAL PROBLEM! Domestic violence injuries,
falls, automobile/motorcycle/bicycle accidents can cause these medical
Chintin Chen, Taiwan
Giordano Schillaci, Italy
Deborah Smith, HI
Michael Woelfel, TX
Julie Stretch, United Kingdom
#02 Jan 07 Carole Hagen, OR
#01 Jan 07 Jill Johnson, CO
LL RIGHTS RESERVED.