Your Child and TMJ

Child has a sore throat. Angina

TMJ, or Temporomandibular joint and muscle disorder, is problems with or symptoms of pain associated with the muscles and joints that connect your jaw to your skull.

I'm sure many of us can remember a time when our jaw has popped or when we caught ourselves clenching during a stressful situation and felt our jaw become sore.

This is not an uncommon occurrence, but when that pain or popping becomes frequent, or we're noticing it in our children, we might need to start considering TMJ.

What is it?

TMJ, or Temporomandibular joint disorder, is problems or symptoms of pain associated with the muscles and joints that connect your jaw to your skull. This can include pain when eating, jaw locking when open or closed, and general discomfort in the area directly in front of your ear where your jaw and skull meet. TMJ can affect children at any age, but it is most common in teenage girls.

What Causes It?

While it's not clear precisely what causes TMJ disorders, many things are considered contributors to the problem. Jaw clenching or teeth grinding can make a TMJ disorder more likely. These behaviors overwork the jaw and can also change the position of the bite. Your child may be unaware that he or she is engaging in these behaviors, as they are often done while asleep.

Stressors such as an upcoming school exam or a project that your child is really focused on can also lead to clenching, grinding, or even chewing on non-food items like pencils or fingernails.

{ MORE: Four Ways to Help Children Learn to Cope with Stress }

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Your Child and TMJ

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