Why Do Teenagers Have More TMJ Problems in the Spring?

article-2527128-1A39286300000578-229_634x359_TMJ_SpringEvery spring, large numbers of worried parents haul their teenagers into the orthodontist for sudden onset jaw pain. Most orthodontists diagnose stress-related TMJ.

What is TMJ?

Temporal mandibular joint (TMJ) disorder is a diverse group of problems affecting the jaw, the joint of the jaw, and the muscles involved in chewing, talking, and swallowing. Some causes of TMJ include stress, clenching the teeth, whiplash, blows to the face and arthritis of the jaw joint. Common symptoms of TMJ are pain, popping and clicking noises and difficulty in opening the jaw fully. Less common symptoms include locking of the jaw open or close, dizziness, and headaches. TMJ pain can come and go or become chronic. There seems to be some kind of link between chronic TMJ pain, female reproductive hormones, and chronic pain syndromes. Practically all sufferers of chronic TMJ are young women, and many women who have other chronic pain syndromes such as vulvodynia also suffer from chronic TMJ.

Why spring?

So why are so many teenagers suffering from TMJ problems in the spring in particular? Most orthodontists believe it is related to stress. The spring is when final exams, graduation, getting invited to prom, and finding summer jobs all occur simultaneously in the average teenager’s life. The American Psychological Association reported early this year that teenagers were the most stressed age group in the U.S. Most of the teenagers surveyed blamed school for their high stress levels.

So what can parents do to help?

The National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Health pointed out that there is no validated test to diagnose TMJ. Teenagers suffering from jaw pain should get checked out to ensure the pain isn’t due to some other cause, such as dental problems or a sinus infection, before embarking on treatments for TMJ.

The TMJ Association surveyed members and reports that the most effective treatment for TMJ-related jaw pain is to apply a hot pack to the sore jaw. The National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Health strongly suggests that TMJ suffers avoid invasive treatments or treatments that cause permanent changes to the body such as tooth grinding, orthodontics and surgery. If the TMJ pain becomes severe, a consult with a practitioner experienced in treating chronic pain syndromes is suggested as the most appropriate approach.

Parents can help teach their teens ways to deal with stress like yoga and meditation. The jaw pain can be relieved with hot packs, gentle stretching and self-massage. Simply alerting teens to the fact that they are clenching their jaws can help because they can deliberately work on un-clenching them. Many stressed individuals clench their teeth at night, during sleep. A simple yet effective method for preventing nighttime tooth-clenching is wearing a mouth guard. A regular dentist cannot fit a mouth guard to treat TMJ. Instead, an experienced TMJ orthodontist should be consulted about getting a mouth guard for your teen.

Among the Clovis TMJ experienced orthodontics is Nalchajian Orthodontics. If your kids are suffering from jaw pain, the same symptoms will most likely occur next spring. They may also pop up whenever life becomes a bit overwhelming. Why not give us a call now and get your teen fitted with a mouth-guard so she can be ready next time to nip the problem in the bud?

 Nalchajian Orthodontics – 7501 N Fresno St, Suite 105, Fresno, CA 93720

Phone: (559) 432 7100

 Why Do Teenagers Have More TMJ Problems in the Spring?

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