Temporomandibular Joint Disorders (TMD) in Children

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Shelly Abramowicz, DMD, MPH, Department of Plastic and Oral Surgery, Boston Children's Hospital

Temporomandibular joint disorders (TMD) are problems involving the temporomandibular joint (TMJ). The TMJ is the most frequently used joint in the body; it allows the jaw movement involved in chewing, talking, smiling and yawning. 

Because many TMJ problems can be treated without surgery, you can play an active role in helping your child get better. Getting a basic understanding of the condition is a great first step as you partner with your child’s health care team to form a treatment plan. 

  • TMD is often caused by over-exertion of the TMJ. This can be caused by muscle tension or spasm, trauma, teeth clenching or grinding, and stress or anxiety.
  • TMD can lead to difficulty opening the mouth, jaw pain or fatigue.
  • TMD is a common problem and can often be treated with a home program.  Severe cases may require surgical intervention.
  • Most children who have TMD eventually have normal jaw function after treatment.

How Boston Children’s Hospital approaches TMD

Here at Boston Children’s, we’ll customize our treatment for your child’s TMD based on his specific symptoms. That treatment can include everything from home care to surgery.

If your child needs surgery, physicians in our Oral and Maxillofacial Surgery Program can help him get better, faster. 

Temporomandibular joint disorders (TMD): Reviewed by Shelly Abramowicz, DMD, MPH
© Boston Children’s Hospital; posted in 2012

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