If your child complains that their teeth and face hurt and you can hear them grinding their teeth in the middle of the night, they could have temporal mandibular joint disorder. This is an issue that you want address with your dentist, and ultimately it will need to be treated by an orthodontist.
The signs of TMJ vary but shouldn't be ignored, because this condition can cause lifelong problems if it isn't treated. Here are just a few of the damages your child could face because they didn't get orthodontic treatment for this oral health condition.
If the jaw bones are out of line and it's causing pain in the joint, then the cartilage in the joint could be grinding between the bones. Cartilage deterioration can lead to problems, like arthritis, later on in life, along with extreme pain as they try to chew and talk. Get the problem looked at before they've done joint damage that can't be reversed.
Teeth grinding causes several complications. It causes the enamel on the teeth to wear, which leaves the teeth exposed to cavities and discoloration, and it can cause sensitivity. Grinding the teeth can also cause chips, breaks, and extreme soreness around the gums and in the joint. The pain can even be in the neck and shoulders, and grinding can cause headaches. The grinding may also stop them from getting good sleep.
If the upper and lower mandible aren't aligned properly your child may have a crossbite, underbite or overbite. This may cause cosmetic concerns that bother them, and having teeth that protrude puts the child at a higher risk for getting some type of oral injury. It can also cause the adult teeth to shift while coming in, causing a need for braces because of cosmetic reasons later on.
If your family dentist has x-rays of your child's teeth and jaw you may be able to take those with you to your appointment at the orthodontist, but the orthodontist may want to take their own images when your child has a consultation. Fixing the child's orthodontic problems early on may allow the problem to get treated faster, and your child will be relieved of the pain much sooner. For this condition, your child may need to wear braces or a retainer, and only in severe cases is surgery necessary to treat the misalignment problem.