Did you know that like adults, even children are at a risk of developing TMJ disorders? The American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry (AAPD) has found cases of TMJ pain in children as young as infants. While it is extremely rare, there are instances of TMD development in young children and teens. One study has reported that 4.2% of adolescents aged 12-19 years reported TMD pain while another epidemiological study found 25% of 4,724 children ages 5-17 suffered of TMJ disorder symptoms.
How to Tell If Your Child Is Struggling with TMD?
TMJ or Temporomandibular Joint Disorder typically involves problems and pains associated with the muscles and joints that connect the jaw to the skull. If you child has been complaining about jaw or facial pain, you must watch out for the following signs and symptoms:
- pain in the facial muscles, jaw joints, or around the ear
- discomfort while talking, chewing, or yawning
- headaches, dizziness, ear pain, hearing loss, and ringing in the ears
- jaw locking—either locking open or locking closed
- uncomfortable sounds when your child opens or closes his or her mouth (popping, grating, or grinding)
- difficulty while chewing or biting
- facial spasms
- neck pain or stiffness
While the symptoms mentioned above are common to those suffering from TMD, when it comes to kids, you must also watch out for sudden behavioral changes. Instances of your child biting on his/her nails or constant chewing of pens and pencils may also be an indication of improper functioning of the TMJ. Sometimes, incessant teeth grinding while sleeping may also be reflective of a TMJ disorder.
What Should I Do If My Child Has These Symptoms?
If your child displays any of the symptoms mentioned above, it is best to contact your family physician or a pediatric dentist to ensure they get help as soon as possible. The earlier your child is diagnosed, the easier it is to implement corrective measures to avoid the situation from escalating.
What Treatment Will My Child Need?
The nature and duration of the treatment form TMJ majorly depends on the severity of the disorder as well as the age of the individual suffering from it. For instance, some cases might require corrective exercises to manipulate the jaw back into place, while for others the dentist may simply suggest a bite plate or guard to wear at night. In extreme cases, bite correction might also be required for children who suffer from TMD.
If your child has been displaying signs of jaw-locking or constantly complains about headaches and backaches, make an appointment with the Smile Team at Joshua Hongs DDS today and we will make sure relief if on its way.