In recent years researchers have discovered that temporomandibular joint (TMJ) arthritis is highly prevalent in children with Juvenile Idopathic Arthritis (JIA). When TMJ arthritis is present, it’s a serious issue due to the fact that TMJ damage is highly likely.
In this post we’re taking a closer look at what JIA is, why children develop the condition, the symptoms associated with it and how the TMJ is affected.
What Is Juvenile Idiopathic Arthritis?
JIA is an autoimmune inflammatory musculoskeletal disease, and it is the most common disease of its kind in children worldwide. The disease is marked by more than 6 weeks of arthritis that begins before the age of 16. The exact cause of JIA is unclear, however several factors, such as stress, infections and genetics, could possibly play a role.
All joints can be affected by JIA, but the TMJ appears to be one of the most heavily impacted. It is also not uncommon for the TMJ to be the first joint that shows signs of JIA. There are 7 subtypes of JIA, all of which can affect either one or both TMJ.
In addition to pain, TMJ arthritis can cause:
- Joint swelling
- Decreased range of motion
An even bigger concern is that TMJ arthritis can cause growth disturbances. When this happens, dysmorphic facial features and mandibular dysfunction can form. If the problem goes undetected it can cause irreversible damage.
Lack of Outward Signs Causes Additional Problems
Although TMJ problems are often associated with JIA, it is typically asymptomatic, meaning that no outward symptoms are seen. Because of this TMJ arthritis goes undiagnosed and untreated in many children.
If your child has been diagnosed with JIA or you suspect they may have the condition, it’s important to have them examined by a dentist who is experienced in TMJ diagnosis. A study published in the June 2012 Alexandria Journal of Medicine found that TMD was detected in 62.5% of JIA cases using clinical evaluations.
The conclusion of the study was that a TMJ clinical evaluation is highly recommended for all JIA patients. If detected, a TMJ treatment plan should be initiated right away to avoid further damage and discomfort.
MedCenter TMJ is a leading dental facility in Houston that is focused on TMJ treatment for patients of all ages. We have invested in the latest TMJ dental technology to provide superior diagnosis, which enables our dentists to create custom treatment plans. Call today or use the online patient form to schedule an appointment.