Checking the health of the jaw joint is not only important for adults, but also for youths between the ages of 12 and 18. If your child is experiencing jaw pain or difficulty opening and closing their mouth, they could benefit from TMJ treatments. The health of the jaw joint should especially be checked frequently in youths who participate in sports. Athletic injuries could cause a condition called condylar resorption, which frequently affects people younger than 20.
Causes of Condylar Resorption
The cause of one form of this condition, known as idiopathic condylar resorption (ICR), is not well understood. ICR affects more females than males, and largely affects teenage girls. Another common name for this condition is cheerleader syndrome because it frequently affects female athletes and cheerleaders who receive jaw injuries.
The condition might be related to arthritis, but the evidence is inconclusive.
Because the condition, like TMJ, affects mostly women, some researchers speculate that female hormones may play a role in the disease.
Recognize the Signs
People suffering from condylar resorption will experience radiating jaw pain similar to other forms of TMJ. This condition commonly causes a bad bite to form which results in popping and clicking of the jaw. Mobility of the jaw may be limited in some patients. Visual signs to look for are a sunken-in appearance of the jaw, or certain bite changes. If both joints are affected by resorption, you might see a gap forming between the upper and lower front teeth when the mouth is closed. If only one joint is affected, the jaw might begin to pivot at the back teeth on the affected side rather than at the joint.
Pain symptoms will worsen if the resorption of the jawbone goes untreated. Left alone, resorption could badly damage the bone and surgery may be needed.
If you notice symptoms of condylar resorption, cone beam computed tomography (CBCT) is used to diagnose the condition. CBCT creates a 3D x-ray to let us see the degradation of the condyle. It allows us to distinguish it from TMJ and recommend proper treatment.
Catching condylar resorption in the early stages is important for non-surgical treatment. Early intervention by TMJ treatments like a bite-splint can be used to slow the resorption and relieve pain. Sometimes other treatments like removing some tissue from the joint might be attempted to stop progression of the condition. Grafts have also been tried, but no treatment has good evidence to support effectiveness. An experienced professional should evaluate jaw pain that persists for more than a few weeks to eliminate condylar resorption as a possible cause.
After resorption has stopped, surgery might be used to restore the appearance of the jaw. Orthodontics can also restore the appearance of your smile as well as your proper bite. We might use reconstructive dentistry to help rebuild your damaged smile. In addition, it’s normal to wear a splint to help maintain the proper relation between your jaws.
If you or your child experience on-going jaw pain, TMJ treatment may offer relief. For more information about TMJ treatment, please call (918) 528-3330 to make an appointment today.