When thinking about TMJ treatment, most people tend to think of it as an “adult issue.” However, it is extremely beneficial to try and identify these issues at a younger age, if possible. The sooner treatment starts, the more you can avoid problems later in life. The impact of TMJ in children can hinder their development and stay with them as they grow up.
For many who get treated for TMJ, it is evident that they have had the issue for decades. This is shown in x-rays, where the bones will shift over time and the joints will change shape. Because they have been sitting incorrectly for so long, it is easy to identify that TMJ has been present.
TMJ Can Run in the Family
Having TMJ is not always a one-off case. It can be genetic and run in families. If you or a family member has TMJ, it’s a good idea to check other family members for symptoms. Especially youngsters who might not be able to articulate the potential TMJ issues they might be experiencing. Some evident signs of a child having TMJ are if they are having to breathe with their mouth open, or snoring. No young children should be experiencing either of these symptoms.
One patient was just 13 years old when she came in after getting her braces off. Even after wearing them for so long, she was still having complications opening her mouth properly. Her mom brought her in, and Dr. Insolera was able to identify immediately that the mom had forward head posture. From there, he was able to recognize other TMJ symptoms as well, such as back pain and digestion complications. This allowed for both mother and daughter to get answers about the health issues they were experiencing.
Treating TMJ in Children
Children can be seen as young as 4 or 5 years old, especially if they are experiencing breathing issues. TMJ and Sleep Center has had patients as young as six years old. One child began treatment right away, working on his posture and bite. Because he was treated so young, it allowed his permanent teeth to come in straight, and avoided future complications.
Another patient was fifteen years old. His mom brought him in because he kept clearing his throat, continually feeling like something was stuck. After running some scans, they found that his muscles were not properly functioning due to his jaw not being correctly aligned. After custom fitting him with an orthotic, his jaw and muscles were able to move back in place and function properly.
The quicker you can get on the right track to treatment, the less you will have to deal with later in life. There have been patients through the years using CPAP machines, resorting to hip or knee replacements, and going through treatments for different parts of their body without ever understanding the root of the issue.
How TMJ Can Affect Growth & Development
When children are experiencing symptoms of TMJ, it may also affect their development and growth. Besides actual physical pain in different parts of the body, lack of airflow can affect how much oxygen they are getting. When this occurs, not only is it uncomfortable for the child, but it can negatively impact their ability to do well in school.
Is it Time to get Symptoms Checked?
If you have a child that you think has symptoms of TMJ, bring them in for a free cure consult as soon as you can. Treating children for medical needs is intimidating, but TMJ and Sleep Center is able to get you on track to getting your child the treatment they may need.