You’ve likely heard of TMJ disorder, a common cause of jaw pain and malfunction. But if your child complains of facial pain, you may assume that it’s not TMD. After all, that’s not a common complaint among kids, is it? Actually, TMJ disorder is far more prevalent among children and adolescents than it is among adults. Fortunately, most cases of pediatric TMD are quite mild and require minimal treatment, such as self-care or a night guard. It’s only in rare, severe cases that more dramatic treatment is required.
If your child has complained of jaw pain, the team at Smiles Dentistry for Kids in Overland Park, KS, can diagnose the underlying cause and provide appropriate treatment. And if your child has a more advanced case, we can collaborate with their entire care team to ensure a comprehensive continuum of treatment.
Contact Smiles Dentistry for Kids to schedule a diagnostic consultation.
What is TMJ Disorder?
TMJ disorder is a condition that causes pain and inflammation in the temporomandibular joints, or TMJs. These joints are located on either side of the jaw and connect the lower jaw to the skull.
It’s easy to assume that kids are unlikely to suffer from TMD, but in fact, the condition is very common among younger patients. In fact, it can affect up to 20 to 60% of children and is more common among girls than boys.
What are the symptoms of TMJ disorder?
If your child complains of any of the following symptoms, they may have TMD:
- Jaw or facial pain
- Stiffness in the jaw
- A clicking noise when they open or close their mouth
- Problems opening or closing the mouth
- A locked jaw
- Ringing in the ears
- Frequent headaches
What causes TMD in kids?
Bruxism, or teeth grinding and clenching, is one of the most common reasons for TMD. Although you may sometimes notice your child grinding their teeth, it is more likely happening at night.
Stress can also play a huge role in the development of TMD, especially since it increases the likelihood of bruxism. This is increasingly a huge concern, as incidents of childhood depression and anxiety increased from 5.4% in 2003 to 8.4% in 2011-2012.
Jaw and dental misalignment can also lead to TMJ disorder. When the teeth do not meet properly, this places uneven pressure on the TMJs, leading to strain and joint damage.
How is TMJ disorder treated?
The treatment for your child’s TMD will depend on the cause and severity of the condition. In many cases, particularly for children, rest and self-care is enough. This may include a short-term soft diet, ice and heat packs, and relaxation exercises.
If bruxism is the cause of your child’s jaw pain, Dr. Matt or Dr. Craven may recommend an oral appliance to be worn at night. Since bruxism is often a side effect of anxiety, you may also want to consider counseling or therapy.
For overall jaw or bite misalignment, orthodontic treatment may be required. In very severe cases, jaw surgery may be necessary, but this is quite rare.
Contact Smiles Dentistry for Kids Today
If you believe your child may be suffering from TMJ disorder, schedule a consultation today.
Contact Smiles Dentistry for Kids online or call (913) 685-9990.