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Temporomandibular joint disorder — more commonly referred to as TMD, TMJD, or “TMJ” by patients — can cause debilitating joint pain. The joint itself is located on either side of the mandible (lower jaw) just in front of the ears. Unlike most joints, the TMJ is capable of moving in a variety of different directions and moves thousands of times per day.
We rely on a healthy TMJ for eating, speaking, and even laughing. So, when it doesn’t work properly, nearly every facet of our lives is affected in some way. Santa Rosa TMJ dentist, Dr. Sutton, is well versed in diagnosing and treating TMJ disorder.
Symptoms of TMJ Disorder
Although most of us tend to experience TMJ pain now and again, clinical TMD is directly linked to symptoms such as:
- Limited range of motion
- Popping and clicking within the joint
- Ear pain
- Discomfort when chewing, biting
- Irregular tooth wear
- Bruxism (teeth grinding)
- Muscle pain in the neck, shoulders, and back
- Past trauma to the joint
- Moderate to severe tooth misalignment
Treatment for TMJ Disorder
TMD therapy varies, depending on the underlying factors at play. If habitual clenching or tension headaches are a concern, Dr. Sutton recommends a bite splint to naturally ease muscle tension around your TMJ. The splints prevent full joint engagement, lessening the strain.
However, the delicate balance of biting relationships plays a crucial role in the health of your TMJ. If teeth hit prematurely in certain areas or heavier in others, it can radiate as atypical muscle patterns. Atypical use of any joint can lead to internal structural damage and pain. To correct the source of TMD, Dr. Sutton recommends incorporating neuromuscular dentistry techniques. Neuromuscular therapy is minimally invasive and non-surgical. It serves to treat TMJ pain at its source, providing long-term results.
Do I Need TMJ Treatment?
If symptoms of TMJ disorder prevent you from normal activities, then you need to speak to a neuromuscular dentist. In most scenarios, a non-surgical TMJ treatment is advised. Correcting discomfort and range of motion issues early will reduce the chances of long-term internal joint damage.
During your consultation with Dr. Sutton, we can capture a 3D scan of your TMJ and surrounding structures. This preview into your internal joint anatomy allows for a more accurate diagnosis and care plan.
Are you battling constant jaw pain or headaches? If over-the-counter pain relievers and warm compresses aren’t enough, it’s time to see a professional.
Experienced TMJ Dentist in Santa Rosa
TMJ health affects everything we do. As a provider well-voiced in full mouth rehabilitation, Dr. Sutton’s extensive post-doctoral training in reconstruction and rehabilitative therapies far exceeds that of typical dental providers. Backed by over two decades of experience, his knowledge and skill for treating TMD cases provide you with the efficient, straightforward results you need.
(All photos of actual patients)