Millions of Americans suffer from TMJ and craniofacial disorders, many with debilitating symptoms. TMJ stands for the temporomandibular joint, which is the spot in front of your ears where your jawbone connects to your skull. This TMJ joint is not a simple hinge like your knees and elbow nor is it a stable ball-in-socket like your shoulders or hips. Your hard jawbone is joined to your hard skull by soft, stretchable, and malleable tissue. Your TMJ has a very complex range of motion: open-close, forward-back, side-to-side, and any combination. Compare your jaw movement to the simple motion of your better-supported elbow, wrist, or shoulder.
Given its weakness and complex motion, when compared to other joints in your body your TMJ is much more susceptible to being torqued and pulled out of alignment. When this happens, you suffer from TMJ disorder (also known as TMD). TMJ disorder can result in an uneven bite that distributes all of your force on a few teeth, frequently cracking those unfortunate few. In addition to obvious dental problems, TMJ disorder can cause pain and serious problems in the jaw, face, head, neck, shoulders and back.
Santa Rosa TMJ dentist Dr. Sullivan have the education and knowledge needed to diagnose and treat TMJ disorders. TMJ diagnosis involves non-invasive testing at our Santa Rosa dental practice, and TMJ treatment usually consists of a safe, FDA-approved, customized oral appliance that snaps over one arch (similar to a night guard) and restores a balanced bite. Every TMJ appliance at our Santa Rosa dental practice is created under the direction of Dr. Sullivan.
Symptoms associated with TMJ disorder
- Chronic headaches and migraines
- Pain and ringing in the ears
- Vertigo or unexplained dizziness
- Sore facial muscles or facial pain
- Pain or stiffness in your neck, shoulders, or back
- Sleep breathing disorders, including snoring and sleep apnea
- Chronic pain in your head or torso
- Clicking or popping in your jaw
- Inability to open your mouth wide, or pain when doing so
- Jaw sticking in certain position, commonly called “lock jaw”
- Jaw pain in the morning when you wake up or at the end of the day
These TMJ disorder symptoms can grow to be so severe, they disrupt your daily activities and erode your happiness and quality of life. Thankfully, Santa Rosa TMJ dentist Dr. Sullivan can address TMJ disorder with an easy-to-wear appliance that restores your natural bite and places your TMJ into a balanced position. If you have any of these symptoms or have questions, please schedule a life-changing consultation with TMJ dentist Dr. Sullivan (707) 545-5260.
What Causes TMJ?
Many non-dental factors can cause or contribute to TMJ disorders. The most obvious is trauma: any blow to the head or chin, especially whiplash, can induce TMJ disorder, and so can a playful child jumping on your back and wrenching your head unexpectedly. Poor posture, arthritis, and hereditary or growth factors that contribute to skeletal malformation can also negatively impact your TMJ. A misaligned bite also frequently leads to TMJ disorder, which is why Santa Rosa TMJ dentist Dr. Sullivan carefully preserve the jaw’s harmony with every dental filling and dental crown. If left untreated, the main and adverse effects of TMJ disorder can become more severe and even permanent.
A misaligned bite can be caused by several factors
- Clenching or grinding your teeth
- Trauma, either severe or even a mild blow
- Misaligned teeth, possibly due to missing teeth or wisdom teeth crowding
- Missing teeth
- Underdeveloped jaws
In these circumstances, the TMJ and muscles are forced to work much harder to bring teeth together in order to function properly. There is also a tendency for excessive subconscious clenching or grinding during the day and night while your body tries to find balance in the misaligned bite. As a result, teeth wear down and can fracture, the TMJ joints can slowly degenerate, and surrounding muscles become strained and fatigued. TMJ disorder can even lead to your jaw getting stuck (“lock jaw”) or ceasing to open and close fluidly.
Santa Rosa TMJ dentist Dr. Sullivan offer a safe, fast, non-surgical, non-invasive remedy to TMJ disorder and orofacial pain. If you or any of your loved ones are suffering from these TMJ-related symptoms, call Santa Rosa Dental today for a TMJ consultation (707) 545-5260.