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Temporomandibular Joint Disorder in the Pediatric Population

Lori Steinley, PT, MS

June 18, 2012



Do you ever have pediatric patients with symptoms of TMD?


Yes I do.  With my craniosacral background, I am starting to wonder if something is happening in labor and delivery as I have seen babies with these symptoms.  This is more craniosacral in nature.  I do not know if the use of more vacuum suction or other techniques in delivery can cause these issues in pediatric patients. 

Labor and delivery is not the only thing that could cause these issues.  I would love to screen these pediatric patients before they get braces.  I treat my own children.  I treated my daughter before she received braces.  I am not against braces, but I want to try to get the muscles and mechanics back to normal before changing the teeth permanently.  I have not seen a lot of pediatric patients, but I have noticed the female patients are getting younger, between 14 and 16.  I have also seen some 12-year-olds.  I would not see patients younger than this as the child’s teeth may not have come in.  This is conservative treatment and there is nothing wrong with checking the mechanics of pediatric patients. 

On a side bar, children who were in a NICU or intubated previously should be checked because their jaw muscles often are very tight.  The lateral pterygoid should be checked.  In babies who cannot suck or nurse, it is possible there is an issue with the lateral pterygoid.  I have treated inside some babies’ mouths to see if it would improve their feeding.  I had an orthodontist in one of my craniosacral classes that said he thinks he would be out of business or have a greatly reduced patient population if physical therapists checked children with issues first.  So not only do I work with dentists, but I target pediatric physicians as well and offer conservative treatment for children in need. 

lori steinley

Lori Steinley, PT, MS

Lori Steinley, PT, MS is a 1988 graduate of the College of St. Scholastica in Duluth, MN with a Bachelor of Arts degree in physical therapy.  She is a 1994 graduate of St. Cloud State University with a Master of Science in Exercise Physiology.  Lori has spent the majority of her clinical practice in outpatient orthopedics with an emphasis on the neck, back, TMJ and headaches.  She began working with patients with temporomandibular disorders in 1992 and has over 250 continuing education hours of instruction in assessment/treatment of the head/neck region. Lori is also a physician assistant, graduating from the University of North Dakota in Grade Forks, North Dakota, Magna Cum Laude, May 2014. She continues to maintain her physical therapy degree but is presently working as a physician assistant in Urology, primarily with pelvic pain patients.   

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