Are Women at a Greater Risk for Developing TMJ Pain?
Posted on 03/15/2016 by Dr. Lovrovich
Did you know that studies have shown that women are twice as likely to experience jaw pain and dysfunction as men?
In fact, some studies have shown that over 90% of TMJ sufferers are women within their childbearing years. Find out why women are at a greater risk for developing TMJ disorders than men and what you can do to keep yourself healthy and pain-free.
TMJ Disorders Explained
The temporomandibular joint serves as a sliding hinge that connects the skull and the jawbone. TMJ disorders cause pain in the joint and within the muscles that control movement of the jaw. The cause of a TMJ disorder can sometimes be difficult to determine, and your pain could be due to a variety of problems. Symptoms and signs of TMJ disorders can include:
- An aching pain around the ear
- Uncomfortable facial pain
- Difficulty chewing
- Tenderness and pain around the jaw
- Locking of the jaw joint, making it extremely difficult to open or close your mouth
Why Women Are More Prone to Developing TMJ Disorder
Women need to understand the risk factors that can make them more prone to developing a DMJ disorder so that you can avoid potential problems:
- Medical conditions. Arthritis is one of the major causes of TMJ, and since this condition is more common in women than men, it should make perfect sense that women would make up a larger portion of arthritis-related TMJ cases. Women also tend to suffer from fibromyalgia more frequently than men, and this can result in increased TMJ pain.
- Nutritional deficiencies. Magnesium deficiencies tend to be more common among women than men, and TMJ syndrome is one condition linked to such a deficiency. It is thought that menstruation may contribute to a portion of these deficiencies, providing support to and a possible explanation of why TMJ tends to affect women throughout their childbearing years.
- Structure of the joints. Some researchers believe that structure of the TMJ differs from men to women. Certain theories have suggested that there are differences within the collagen that holds the disc in place between the socket and ball of the joint.
- Hormones. Researchers have found a connection between estrogen and pain within the jaw joints. Animal studies have shown estrogen receptors within the temporomandibular joints.
- Stress. Clenching and grinding of the teeth commonly results due to stress. While it may not be true that women have more stress than men, it is certainly a contributing factor to TMJ disorder.
How Women Can Prevent TMJ Pain
If you are a woman in your childbearing years, you should take steps to protect yourself against TMJ pain:
- Reduce your stress level. Since stress is a major contributor to TMJ pain, take steps to reduce your stress level.
- Use cold or heat. An ice pack is a good way to relieve pain, while the heat can relax the muscles to relieve TMJ pain.
- Protect your mouth while asleep. Wear a mouth guard in order to prevent teeth grinding, as this habit can affect the TMJ.
- Avoid hard foods. If there are any hard or chewy foods that especially aggravate your TMJ symptoms, be sure to avoid these items.
- Use a pain reliever. Over-the-counter pain meds like ibuprofen or Tylenol can help with your discomfort.
- Give your jaw plenty of rest. If you are experiencing TMJ pain, avoid yawning, chewing gum, and anything else that might cause excessive movement of the joint.
If you are experiencing chronic TMJ pain, contact our office to set up an appointment. We can discuss your TMJ disorder risk factors, tips for preventing pain, and treatment options to help you eliminate this discomfort from your life for good.