As children enter their adolescent and teenage years, earlier trauma or new trauma to the chin, jaw or face can injure the TMJs, with the damage expressing itself with the lower jaw not growing properly, seemingly dropping the chin back and potentially separating the front teeth.
The head and upper jaw grow relatively normal, while the lower jaw does not, causing the facial profile to distort. The chin can deviate to one side, indicating one jaw joint injury is worse than the other. The front teeth might not touch properly or at all.
What is interesting to note is that pain symptoms involving the jaws, face, head, muscles and neck often begin in this age group.
It is the weak chin profile that indicates a potential TMJ problem in the child. The weak chin and lower jaw growth defect can however continue to express itself into the adolescent and adult years with the potential for multiple pain symptoms as well as ongoing distortion of the bite and facial profile.
The pain can come and go and vary in intensity and location depending on the severity of the jaw joint pathology. Cracking and clicking type sounds can also be perceived from the jaw joint. Clenching and grinding of the teeth may be present.
Although orthodontics at this age can straighten the teeth, if the cause of the bite and facial profile problem is not properly diagnosed and treated, the bite and facial profile will continue to distort after the orthodontic braces are removed. Most notably, the upper and lower front teeth will separate, with the chin seeming to drop back.
KEY: ONLY MRI WILL REVEAL WHETHER JAW JOINT AND OR GROWTH CENTER DAMAGE HAS OCCURRED AND WHETHER THE JAW JOINTS ARE STABLE OR BREAKING DOWN. MRI IS A NON IONIZING TYPE OF RADIATION WITH NO HARMFUL RISKS.