The temporomandibular joint is the joint where the lower jaw (mandible) joins the skull, immediately in front of the ear on each side of the head. Each time your child chews, talks, or swallows, the TMJ moves. It is one of the most frequently used joints in the body.
You can locate that joint by putting your finger on the triangular structure in front of your child's ear. Then move your finger just slightly forward and press firmly while your child opens and closes his/her jaw all the way. The motion you feel is in the TMJ.
These maneuvers can cause discomfort to a patient who is having TMJ trouble, and your doctor may use these maneuvers to make a diagnosis of TMJ dysfunction.
This malady can affect children at any age but it is more prevalent in teenagers and girls. It starts with soreness in the jaw but at times this pain becomes intense and lingers. Chewing becomes difficult and even smiling and breathing cause an increase in pain. Treatment is required for this condition.
Yes, TMJ dysfunction is a serious problem in your developing child. If the TMJ experiences and injury, the joint may not grow properly and will cause pain in the joint and ear. The most important aspect of growth interference includes the improper development of the child's bite
TMJ problems most often develop from some type of injury and are not hereditary. These TMJ related problems may occur at a very young age from a fall, motor vehicle accident, or direct strike to the chin from sports or other physical activity. Milder type traumas to the TMJ include overextension of the mandible, poor head posture, and chewing habits. Bad sleeping habits, poor posture and incorrect lifting and carrying can also cause a misalignment of the atlas vertebrate (the top cervical bone in the neck) and contribute to symptoms of a TMJ disorder.
Treatment for TMJ dysfunction in children differs from the treatment recommended for an adult. The most appropriate diagnosis is the key to determining the most beneficial course of treatment. At this stage, we have the opportunity to correct the dysfunction and allow the patient to further develop in a proper way. Treating symptoms alone is NOT appropriate care for a TMJ problem in a child.
Since TMJ problems develop from trauma, there is a strong possibility that any active child can injure that very delicate joint.