Often, jaw problems develop later in life, but in some cases, it can develop at a young age. This is especially true for young people who develop juvenile idiopathic arthritis (JIA), which, according to a new study, frequently causes jaw problems.
These young people will need to manage jaw dysfunction their entire lives. Fortunately, they don’t have to do it alone. We can help manage the symptoms and complications of JIA.
What Is JIA?
JIA is an umbrella term for a number of different types of arthritis that attack a young person’s joints without another known cause. Typically, these are inflammatory or autoimmune disorders. In the past, they were often called juvenile rheumatoid arthritis, because of the similarity with that autoimmune disorder, but the new term includes some types of arthritis that aren’t related to rheumatoid types.
In rheumatoid arthritis and related types, the immune system starts attacking joints. Other times, inflammation leads to joint damage without necessarily causing an attack on joints by the immune system.
The most common type is polyarticular JIA, which affects five or more joints, usually focusing on small joints like the fingers, but may include weight-bearing joints and the jaw. Another common type is systemic JIA, which is inflammatory and is preceded by a high fever and skin rashes. Kids with JIA may also experience psoriasis symptoms.
There is no cure for JIA, and symptoms are usually managed with nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), steroid injections, disease-modifying anti-rheumatic drugs (DMARDs), and agents that suppress the immune system. Other therapies can help manage symptoms.
Orofacial Dysfunction Linked to JIA
A new study shows that jaw problems are among the most common effects of JIA. This study looked at 36-month follow-up data for 351 young patients under age 14. They found that 38% of these patients had orofacial symptoms related to their JIA.
Subjective symptoms often didn’t predict the presence of orofacial dysfunction, which was present in 53% of subjects. However, orofacial dysfunction and dentofacial deformities, which occurred in 35% of patients, were strongly linked.
Help Managing Dysfunction
As we said, there is no cure for JIA, but we can help manage orofacial dysfunction and related effects. We can help to support the jaw and reduce discomfort with a bite splint. By making your bite more comfortable, we can make it easier for you to enjoy a normal life.
In addition, we can address dentofacial deformities. Although most people think orthodontics only moves teeth, it can actually impact the structure of your face. In addition to neuromuscular orthodontics, we offer myofunctional therapy, which can help you learn healthy habits that promote proper jaw function and structure, even with conditions like JIA.