If your child is struggling with juvenile rheumatoid arthritis that affects their jaw, you may feel as though staying away from braces is a good idea. This is a reasonable conclusion to come to since your child may already be experiencing some jaw pain due to the disease. However, the reality is that a child who has juvenile rheumatoid arthritis can benefit from braces. Read on to learn why children with juvenile rheumatoid arthritis and crooked teeth should get braces, and why it's a better choice than waiting until adulthood.'
How JRA Affects the Jaw Joints
Juvenile rheumatoid arthritis can affect any of the joints in your child's body, including the temporomandibular joints. These joints are the hinges of the jaw, which allow you to open and close your mouth.
In a healthy child, these joints will fuse once your child's jaw has finished growing. However, kids who have JRA may sometimes have one or both joints fuse prematurely, or they may experience abnormal non-symmetrical jaw growth. Even if their teeth are straight, JRA can potentially cause your child's jaw or chin to appear crooked or underdeveloped, and it may lead to significantly limited mobility of the jaw joints.
Repairing Alignment Problems
Braces are particularly useful while kids with JRA are still young because they can help to mitigate some of the damage done by the disease. Although braces can't cure arthritis, a qualified orthodontist can measure and carefully monitor your child's jaw growth. If the jaw is growing unevenly, braces can be used to realign the jaw while the bone is still growing and thus fairly malleable. By doing this, an orthodontist will not only be able to improve the appearance of your child's smile and jaw line as they grow up, but they can reduce abnormal pressure on the temporomandibular joints that can make it difficult to open and close the mouth.
Some parents feel that waiting until the child is older and the arthritis has either gone into remission or is better controlled before using braces is the better option.
Unfortunately, childhood is the best window of opportunity to modify the way your child's jaw is growing. If you wait until adulthood, one or both of the temporomandibular joints may be undergoing extreme pressure from an abnormally-aligned jaw. Your child may also have an underdeveloped jaw line, which can lead to anxiety about their appearance.
These problems can still be fixed in adulthood, but they're more difficult. Braces take longer to correct problems on adults than children because the bones have already finished growing and fully hardened. In some cases, fixing an underdeveloped jaw may require surgery to cut the jaw bones and move them into their proper positions.
Orthodontists, like James W. Logeman D.D.S. M.S., are uniquely qualified to monitor your child's jaw development, oral bone growth and temporomandibular joint pressure. Visit an orthodontist to find out if braces can potentially help prevent severe pain and a malformed jaw line when your child grows up.