Temporomandibular joint disorder can affect patients of any age—even children. This article will explore how your Albertville dentist Dr. Jonathan Renfroe can treat TMJ disorder in children at Wall Street Dentistry.
TMJ disorder is less common in children than adults but is still a serious medical issue
TMJ disorder occurs when the temporomandibular joint—the small round joint that connects the jawbone to the skull—enters a state of dysfunction. These joints control the movements of the jaw, as they relate to normal functions such as biting, chewing, swallowing, and even speech.
Among children and adolescents, TMJ disorder has been found to occur at a higher rate among females following their onset of puberty. Females between the ages of 16 and 19 have reported TMD-related pain that was severe enough to miss school or work and required taking pain medication to manage. The temporomandibular joint itself starts to develop while a child is in utero, and continues to grow with the first 10 years of life. If your child sustains an injury to the jaw during these crucial early years of growth, a dysfunction of the joint that leads to TMJ disorder easily can develop. Adolescents also have a higher susceptibility to sustaining an injury that leads to TMJ disorder, because the joint itself and the surrounding musculature are not as strong in pre-teens and teens as compared to adults.
In addition to injury, TMJ disorder also can manifest due to stress placed on the jaw. Other potential factors include negative oral habits, such as chewing on inanimate objects like pencils, ice cubes, and fingernails. Your child may experience changes in the alignment of their bite as they age and their permanent teeth emerge. A negative change in bite alignment can place additional stress on the temporomandibular joint, leading to some sort of dysfunction. A child also may develop TMJ disorder as a consequence of bad posture, poor diet, or even a lack of sleep due to lifestyle choices or a sleep breathing disorder like sleep apnea.
Parents can check their children for possible indicators that TMJ disorder is present
Find the temporomandibular joint by placing your finger on the triangular area in front of your child’s ear, and then ask your child to open and close their jaw completely. As they do this, move your finger slightly forward and then press down firmly. You are pressing on the temporomandibular joint as you do this, and if the joint is functioning as it should, this procedure will not cause any discomfort in your child. If there is a problem with the joint, however, this pressure will feel bothersome or uncomfortable for your child—and could be indicative that TMJ disorder is present.
Learn the symptoms of TMJ disorder
Correctly identifying a disorder related to the temporomandibular joint can be one of the most difficult diagnostic challenges in all of medical science. Because the symptoms of TMJ disorder can vary widely from case to case and may occur throughout the body, a person with this ailment may be misdiagnosed as having another issue. One of the most frequent misidentifications is diagnosing a TMJ patient with migraine headaches, as both disorders are symptomized by painful headaches that occur with regular frequency. A child with TMJ disorder may experience jaw pain or mouth pain that makes it difficult to eat, sleep, or speak comfortably.
Click here for a full list of symptoms of TMJ disorder
Treating TMJ disorder in children in Albertville
TMJ disorder is a serious condition that only can be resolved by having it treated by a medical professional with specialized training—medical professionals like the TMJ specialists at Wall Street Dentistry. Dr. Jonathan Renfroe has studied and worked in neuromuscular dentistry, an advanced area of dental science that emphasizes the proper alignment of the bite and jaw. A neuromuscular dentist has a unique background to make a correct diagnosis of TMJ disorder and then provides treatment by helping a patient reach the optimum alignment of their bite and jaw. This alignment alleviates any stress on the temporomandibular joint, resolving TMJ disorder and eliminating any symptoms caused by the disorder—including pain.
Dr. Renfroe can treat TMJ disorder in patients of any age. Once the disorder is identified, blood flow to the jaw joints can be improved through the use of a TENS unit, which delivers low-frequency impulses of electricity to the jaw muscles, relaxing the muscles and removing any built-up toxins in the area. Next, treatment can be applied to address TMJ disorder itself. To learn more about how TMJ disorder is treated or schedule a consultation for your child to be evaluated, call (256) 878-0525.
Wall Street Dentistry provides TMJ treatment for patients in the areas of Albertville, Boaz, and Guntersville, Alabama.