San Francisco dentist explains how TMJ disorders can impact children

Children's Tmj Disorders at TMJ & Sleep Therapy Centre in San Francisco Area

TMJ is a common phrase relating to pain, popping, and locking of the joint within the jaw. While many adults experience these feelings, it’s important to know that they impact children as well and can cause unexplained discomfort and pain. Dr. Jamil Alkhoury of the TMJ & Sleep Therapy Centre of San Francisco is an expert in sleep conditions, TMJ, and head and facial pain. He helps parents understand how TMJ could be affecting their children and how to treat the condition.

What is TMJ?

To understand TMJ, a disorder of the temporomandibular joint that connects the skull to the lower jaw, place two fingers below your ear along the curve at the back of your jaw. Hold your fingers in place while you open and close your mouth or while mimicking the chewing movements. You should feel the jaw sliding and pivoting within the joint. Hopefully you don’t feel any pain or hear a clicking sound while performing this exercise. Being able to comfortably open and close your mouth indicates that the joint is in good health and is aligned correctly.

Could my child have TMJ?

If your child performs this exercise and feels discomfort, hears a clicking sound, or if their jaw locks when opened or closed, he could have an issue with TMJ. Common symptoms of TMJ include pain in the jaw, ear, facial muscles, neck, or shoulder; a clicking sound when you open your mouth; pain when chewing; unexplained headaches, dizziness, hearing loss, or ringing in the ears.

Often, TMJ is caused when children grind their teeth or diagnosed when older kids experience unexplained jaw pain. The pain may occur infrequently or only last for a day or two. However, if your child is experiencing symptoms for several days or longer, if the discomfort turns to extreme pain, or if the pain travels into his head, neck, or face, you should call a dentist.

Treating TMJ

While TMJ can only be confirmed with an exam and through imaging tests, dentists can often help treat the condition with the use of oral appliances, similar to a sports mouth guard, that decrease the muscle tension and pain caused by habits such as clenching and grinding your teeth. Sometimes patients perform these actions subconsciously or while sleeping and are completely unaware. The appliance is custom-made for each individual and keeps you from unknowingly harming your jaw.

To learn more about treating your child’s TMJ, call the TMJ & Sleep Therapy Centre of San Francisco at 415-226-7274.

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Dr Jamil Alkhoury is a graduate from the University of California, San Francisco (UCSF) with a degree in Advanced Education in General Dentistry. Many people suffering from sleep apnea are unaware that they suffer from it, and need guidance from an expert. Sleep Apnea and TMJ are common among millions of American children and adults. Dr Jamil Alkhoury looks to improve and enhance the quality and life of his patients and has solutions to all your sleep related problems.
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