TMJ Disorders in children




TMJ Disorders in children

Temporomandibular Joint is the joint that connects the lower jaw to the skull and TMJ disorders (also called as Temporomandibular disorders ,or TMD ) can be cause of pain in the head, neck, face or jaw. These can affect kids of any age , but are more common in teens.





Reasons for TMD

There can be many reasons why these disorders happen, it can precipitate because of an injury or habit. Most of the injuries that happen are inconspicuous and this makes it difficult for individuals to correlate and understand its impact . Simple injuries while playing can damage the disc in the joint. Habit of grinding teeth can be another reason , it wears down the disc or moves it out of place simply because of overwork. This may affect the muscles used for eating and hence pain in the cheeks while eating. This can lead to withdraw from eating certain types of food in children . The stress of exams, peer pressure etc can induce habits like teeth grinding, jaw clenching or holding the jaw muscles in tight positions for long time.
Some kids have bad bites or other dental problems that can cause disproportionate burden on joint leading to jaw pain. Other systemic problems like juvenile Rheumatoid Arthritis affects this joint too.





Symptoms

It’s time to consult a TMJ consultant if the child complains of following things . (This is a suggestive list , reasons can ne beyond this )..
Some kids have bad bites or other dental problems that can cause disproportionate burden on joint leading to jaw pain. Other systemic problems like juvenile Rheumatoid Arthritis affects this joint too.

  • Pain in the facial muscles, jaw joints, or around the ear, and sometimes in the neck and shoulders.
    Some people have pain when they talk, chew, or yawn; a few might notice muscle spasms.
  • popping, clicking, or grating sounds when opening or closing the mouth (some kids hear these noises but don’t have other symptoms, and might not need any treatment)
  • difficulty chewing or biting
  • headaches, dizziness, ear pain, hearing loss, and ringing in the ears (tinnitus)
  • jaw locking (the jaw might lock wide open or lock shut)





Treatment

For some kids with TMJ disorders, treatment can be as simple as resting the jaw for a few days , child can be on soft foods and make sure he or she avoids any habits that can aggravate the TM joint or the muscles of the face (such as chewing gum, clenching or grinding the teeth, or opening the mouth extra-wide while yawning).
While others may need a comprehensive evaluation to understand the problem . The treatment is then devised based on the problem.
and if problem with your child’s bite is contributing to the TMJ disorder, he or she may recommend braces or other dental work to correct it.
Sometimes, the symptoms do not respond to other treatments, a child might need surgery to repair damaged tissue in the joint. But this is the last resort taken very rarely and in extremely compromised patients.