Tuesday, May 7, 2013

Is Your "Gamer" Damaging Their Tmj.

We had a young patient, 14 years old, come in the other day complaining of popping and clicking in his temporomandibular joint (TMJ). He was also having pain in his jaw radiating up the side of his face to his temple area. 

I did an exam on his TMJ and found it to be very painful with a lot of popping and clicking upon opening and closing. It is very unusual to have someone as young as him developing TMJ Disorder unless there was trauma involved. I asked him if he were in an accident, a fight, got hurt playing sports, fell, etc. He responded negatively to all the above. I also asked if he ever had orthodontics. He said he had not. (Sometimes bad orthodontics can affect your bite and cause TMJ Disorder symptoms.)  

Sometimes my patients that have jobs on computers all day develop these symptoms since they seem to be clenching when they work.  I didn't think he would be on a computer all day but then I thought, "What does a 14 year old do all day?" Plays video games. I asked him if he were a gamer and he said yes. At this point his mother added, "He plays all the time." I asked her how many hours and she said four to six hours a day, sometime more. I then asked him what type of games he plays and he told me action games. I thought that he is probably clenching and/or grinding his teeth the whole time he is playing his games. 

I recommended a simple night guard device called an NTI. We were able to fabricate one here in the office and told him to wear it all the time and we will see if it helps. We were going to follow up in three weeks but his mother told us that even after a week he is noticing an improvement. 

So if you have a teenager that plays a lot of video games, watch them sometimes. If you notice that they are clenching or grinding their teeth when they are playing, you may want to call us to prevent them from developing TMJ Disorder.


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