TMJ disorders in children

Growing pains are a norm in most kids and it does include some pain in the jaws especially during growth spurts (a sudden change in height or shoe size is a good indicator of a growth spurt).  During growth and development, literature has found an increased frequency of hypermobile joints in the body ( hypermobility of the joints in the jaw often results in “clicking” of the jaws and is usually benign and the TMJ clicking often stops after the structures develop.  If the clicking is accompanied by discomfort, palliative treatment measures should be done and these include non-steroidal anti-inflammatory medications, application of moist warm compresses over the TMJ and temples for 8-10 minutes, and avoiding very chewy foods.  

Consultation with pediatric dentist or an orofacial pain specialist is indicated if the jaw pain is constant, jaw locking occurs frequently, or if jaw discomfort interrupts day to day function, eating or sleep.  The pediatrician or primary physician should be consulted initially of more than one joint exhibit hypermobility. 

It is critical to consider the pros and cons of different treatment approaches in pediatric patienst.  Oral appliances or mouth guards are the mainstay of treatment in TMJ disorders but they could hinder normal growth and development in pediatric dentist.  Furthermore, oral appliances do have the potential to cause changes in the dental bite which can be pronounced in these patients.  

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