TMJ disorders are regularly found in adults only, as they are the age group whose facial muscles, structure, and bones are matured. Many of these adults, though, probably were showing early signs as children (i.e. grinding teeth in their sleep or ear pain with no infections), but had these symptoms either ignored or dismissed as “normal” by their parents or pediatricians.
Children generally aren’t specifically diagnosed with TMJ when they are young; it’s the “baby symptoms” that show up around this time and will later provide an environment that causes TMJ to develop and thrive.
It’s important to pay attention to your child’s complaints about physical discomforts. Sure, it may be nothing sometimes (kids DO say lots of things….often too many things!). But if you notice something strange with, for example, the way they chew, tired mouth muscles, inability to open their mouths all the way, or random ear pangs, you should take them in for an orthodontic examination. This is the best way to fix and prevent problems that could lead to TMJ disorders in their adult future.
Dr. Sperbeck, West Los Angeles