Temporomandibular Joint Dysfunction (TMJ) in Children

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Contact the Department of Plastic and Oral Surgery

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"For minor TMJ problems, home care - such as range-of-motion jaw exercises, resting the jaw when tired and reducing stress - can be very helpful."

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

The temporomandibular (TMJ) joint is what allows people to talk and chew comfortably; over-exertion of this joint can lead to a variety of disorders referred to as temporomandibular joint dysfunction (TMD).

  • The TMJ is the most constantly used joint in the body.
  • Minor problems can be caused by teeth clenching and grinding that often occur as a result of emotional stress or anxiety.
  • This can trigger joint symptoms, as well as spasm of the chewing muscles, headaches and neck pain.
  • If your child has trauma in his lower jaw, it can cause rapid shearing of the joint, which may require treatment.

Less pain, faster recovery

The surgeons at the Center for Robotic and Minimally Invasive Surgery at Boston Children's Hospital are dedicated to helping your child get better faster.

Arthrocentesis is a minimally invasive procedure to treat TMD.

  • Two needles are inserted through the skin into the temporomandibular joint space and sterile fluid is injected to break up adhesions and to cleanse the joints.
  • Medications to lubricate the joint may be added at the end of the procedure to help reduce inflammation or pain.
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    Read about general information and resources for Children’s patients and their families.


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Reviewed by: Shelly Abramowicz, DMD, MPH. © Children’s Hospital Boston; posted in 2012.

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