Kids and TMJ – Aren’t They Too Young For That?

Last updated on August 29th, 2015 at 04:35 pm

TMJ (tempero-mandibular joint) disorder occurs when the chewing muscles and the joints of the jaw fail to work together properly causing a number of symptoms. These symptoms include: headaches, jaw pain, fatigue, clenching and/or grinding of the teeth, clicking or popping of the jaw, tinnitus, earaches and pain in the neck, back and face.

There are a number of things that can contribute to the cause of TMJ disorder. Malocclusion (the misalignment of teeth), bruxism (clenching /grinding), stress and accidents with damage to the face, head or neck can all contribute to TMJ.

Children who may be predisposed to TMJ or have malocclusion may not experience pain until later in their teen years. Early prevention and treatment is key to avoiding later dysfunction, pain and more costly treatments. Luckily there are a few simple ways to determine if TMJ may be an issue for you child. In addition to the panoramic xray your dentist will likely take of your child’s teeth, there are also the cephalometric xray, tomographic xray and CT scans that can be taken to determine the position of the jaw joints. Impressions of the teeth may be taken to allow your dentist to study your child’s bite to determine if malocclusion is an issue. The treatments may range from a simple appliance called a splint to help reposition the jaw or full orthodontics to correct the bite.

An important thing to consider is that recent research shows TMJ is often undiagnosed by medical doctors. The reason for this is that TMJ symptoms mimic the symptoms of more serious illnesses such as aneurysms and migraines. These more harmful diagnoses should be ruled out before considering TMJ treatment.

As always, make sure your child is receiving a complete and thorough exam at every dental checkup. Early detection reduces the risk of life long pain and costly treatments. Ask your dentist if your child may be at risk.

About the Author

I am a family dentist who treats children as well as adults. Making smiles people love, extreme makeovers and complex dental reconstruction is our niche including implants, TMJ, orthodontics and cosmetic dentistry. As a participant in the blog, I will be offering dental perspectives on pediatric safety and health care options on a regular basis. I can be reached at www.suwaneedental.com. Blessings to all! Dr Williams is a member of the PedSafe Expert team

Comments

One Response to “Kids and TMJ – Aren’t They Too Young For That?”

  1. I’ll be sure to keep an eye on my kids and check out those screening on our next dental visit, thanks!

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