Pediatric TMJ Services in Worcester

TMJ treatment from a trusted pediatric dentist is vital for children dealing with this painful jaw disorder. TMJ disorder is a condition that causes pain in the temporomandibular jaw joints. Patients who suffer from this disorder can experience chronic headaches, migraines, tooth pain, muscle and ear pain. When they experience an extreme flare-up, it can be difficult for them to speak or chew. Thankfully, oral appliances and other therapies from Children's Dental Specialties can alleviate the pain and provide long-term relief.

What Are the Temporomandibular Joints?

We all have two temporomandibular joints (TMJs) — one on either side of our head. They are our jaw joints, what connect the lower jaw to our skull. The muscles and ligaments around the joint create a sliding hinge, allowing the jaw to move so we can speak, chew, yawn, and more.

TMJ disorder
dentist overlooking boy with apparent jaw pain

What Causes TMJ Disorder?

Over-exertion of the TMJ and the corresponding muscles and ligaments can cause strain, tension, and pain. What causes overexertion of a child's jaw joints?

  • - Clenching and grinding their teeth at night (bruxism)
  • - Trauma to the jaw
  • - High stress
  • - High anxiety
  • - Habits such as nail biting and gum chewing

When the facial muscles are overly tight, it causes inflammation and nerve irritation, resulting in pain. Failing to treat TMJ disorder can result in damage to the discs that cushion the jaw joints and arthritis.

Taking steps to treat your child's TMJ disorder can result in:

  • - Less pain
  • - Better sleep
  • - Reduced risk of damage to the jaw joint and the child's dentition
  • - Improved ability to eat (ensuring they get adequate nutrition)
  • - Enhanced overall health
  • - Better quality of life

Pediatric TMJ Services — How Your Child's Dentist Can Help

To treat your child's TMJ disorder, we'll start with identifying the root cause of the problem. From there, we can create a custom treatment plan that will address your child's unique needs. In some cases, we can provide conservative therapies that remedy the issue and provide amazing pain relief. In more complex cases, we may recommend a variety of procedures over the course of the child's life.

Here are some therapies that we may recommend for your child's TMJ treatment plan.

Oral Appliance

One of the primary pediatric TMD services in Worcester that we offer is the fabrication of a custom oral appliance, or splint/night guard. The appliance fits over the biting surfaces of your child's upper or lower teeth. The appliance protects the teeth from bruxism damage, while easing pressure on the jaw at night.

When a child first receives their appliance, depending on the severity of their symptoms, we may recommend that they wear the device 24/7 for a while. After a few months or a year, they can start to wear their appliance at nighttime only.

dentist in face-shield operating dental drill on child patient
dental model of hinged jaw being inspected by dental mirror

Physical Therapy

Physical therapy (PT) exercises encourage the muscles of the face, head, and neck to stretch and relax — a welcome change from how tight they likely are. PT can also help break up scar tissue, something that's vital after jaw surgery to prevent the exacerbation of muscle tightness and jaw pain.

Stress & Anxiety Reduction Techniques

It is important to your child's dental health, as well as their overall wellbeing, to identify what's causing them stress and anxiety. If at all possible, help the child reduce stress-inducing things in their life — or eliminate them altogether.

Teaching your child relaxation and mindfulness techniques from an early age can help reduce the effects of stress, anxiety, and pain now, as well as into their teen and adult years. You can even practice these techniques together for some extra bonding time.

Not sure where to start? Just ask us — we're happy to offer some recommendations.

Orthodontia

A common reason why a child's TMJ is over-exerted is because of misalignment of the teeth and jaw. If your child has crooked teeth or a bite disorder (crossbite, overbite, underbite), it strains the muscles of the jaw, head, and neck. Treating the misalignment with braces (traditional or Invisalign) can provide immense relief.

We Want to Help Your Child Get Out of Pain Fast

TMJ disorder can be debilitating and make life miserable for your child. We want to provide them with solutions that will help them get out of pain as quickly as possible. However, our goal is two-fold. Not only do we want to ease their pain, but we also want to prevent future pain and long-term damage. Therefore, the remedies we recommend at Children's Dental Specialties will always have long- and short-term value for your child.

human head in profile

We'll Help Your Child Get Relief from TMJ Pain!

Contact us today to schedule an exam and learn how we can help.