Temporomandibular Joint (TMJ) Surgery


The temporomandibular joint (TMJ) is located in front of your ear, where the skull and the lower jaw meet.

The joint allows the lower jaw (mandible) to move and function. The joint itself is made up of two bones that are separated by a disc of cartilage. Ligaments and muscles surround the joint.

More on what we do

Problems with the jaw joint are very common but usually last only a few months before getting better.

In some instances, only the muscles are affected (myofacial pain dysfunction). In other cases, there can be problems with the cartilages and ligaments (internal derangement of temporomandibular joint).

The most common symptoms are:

  • Joint noise – such as clicking, cracking, crunching, grating or popping
  • Pain, usually a dull ache in and around the ear - the pain may radiate, ie move forwards along the cheekbone or downwards into the neck
  • Headache
  • Limited mouth opening

Most jaw joint problems are made worse by chewing and are aggravated at times of stress.


We carry out a range of treatments on jaw disorders, from simple procedures to open surgery. They include:

  • TMJ steroid injections
  • Jaw joint washout (arthrocentesis)
  • Relocation of dislocated TMJ
  • Surgical treatment for recurrent TMJ dislocation
  • Open jaw joint procedures for abnormal jaw growth
  • Open jaw joint procedures for arthritic changes and reduced or painful mouth opening
  • Jaw exercises and physiotherapy

Our team

Mr Michael Esson, Consultant Oral & Maxillofacial Surgeon

Mr Andrew McLennan, Consultant Oral & Maxillofacial Surgeon

Mr John Bowden Consultant, Oral & Maxillofacial Surgeon

Where to find us

RD&E Wonford, Barrack Rd, Exeter EX2 5DW

Level 1, Area J

Department of Oral & Maxillofacial Surgery

Children and young people

We have a full remit of investigation and treatment for children and young people with TMJ conditions.


Multiple routine, new and follow-up clinics at RD&E Wonford.

Follow-up Clinics at Tiverton Hospital, Axminster Hospital and North Devon District Hospital.


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