Jaw Pain in Kids & Teens Explained by Our Orthodontist in Liberty, MO
If your child or teen is experiencing pain when opening and closing their mouth, or waking up with pain in their jaw, they may be suffering from temporomandibular joint disorder (TMJ disorder). This condition is painful and can lead to difficulty chewing and speaking. Our orthodontist in Liberty, MO, explains more below about what TMJ is and how to tell if your child or teen may have it.
What Is TMJ?
TMJ actually refers to the joint that connects your upper and lower jaws itself (temporomandibular joint), not the condition. TMJ disorder is a malfunction of the TMJ and interferes with smooth function of the joint, resulting in grinding and popping as you move your mouth. It can become extremely painful if not treated.
Symptoms of TMJ Disorder
Symptoms of TMJ disorder include:
- Pain or difficulty when opening the mouth
- Popping sounds when moving your jaw
- Grinding or clenching of your jaw (bruxism)
- Waking in the morning with pain or stiffness in your jaw
- Difficulty chewing or speaking
- Jaw or facial soreness
If your child or teen’s condition worsens and they have the habit of clenching their jaw or grinding their teeth, their teeth may shorten, chip, or otherwise become damaged.
Causes & Treatments
The causes of TMJ disorder aren’t clear, but we know that risk is increased in those with rheumatoid arthritis and patients who have sustained an injury to their jaw in the past. Either way, there are treatments available to reduce your pain! Mouthguards and splints can be employed to prevent grinding and clenching of the jaw. Physical therapy, stress reduction techniques, and special stretches may also be used as part of your child or teen’s treatment plan. With the right combination of treatments, jaw pain can be successfully relieved.