September 5, 2022
Your temporomandibular joints (TMJ) are the most complex joints in your whole body—after all, they’re what connect your jaw to your skull and grant you an incredible range of motion with your mouth! However, their complexity is part of why they’re quite susceptible to issues like TMJ disorders. But did you know that women are more likely to face these issues, and that they account for about 90% of all reported cases? Here’s more about why this is, along with some known risk factors associated with TMJ disorders and what can be done to address them.
Why Are Women at a Higher Risk of TMJ Disorder?
TMJ disorders affect about 12% of the population at any given time—however, the majority of these cases are experienced by women between the ages of 18 and 44. The ratio of female to male patients increases with the severity of symptoms, approaching 9 women for every 1 man with the most severe jaw dysfunction and chronic pain. But what makes women in their child-bearing years more susceptible to these types of jaw issues?
Although researchers aren’t certain why women are more heavily impacted, they do believe it has to do with differences in the jaw anatomy between the sexes. Female hormones are assumed to play a role, since estrogen receptors have been found in jaw tissue and appear to affect pain sensitivity.
What Risk Factors Are Associated with TMJ Disorder?
There are many other risk factors outside of age and sex that can increase your risk of TMJ disorder, including:
- Physical injury to the jaw or face.
- Bruxism (grinding or clenching your teeth during sleep).
- Orthodontic issues like misaligned teeth or an uneven jaw.
- Prolonged stress.
How Is TMJ Disorder Treated?
TMJ pain is not something that will simply vanish on its own; in fact, if things are left to progress, you’ll usually end up with worsened symptoms! The first step to seeking treatment is visiting your dentist to have your pain evaluated; your dentist is specially trained to diagnose TMJ disorder and will help you develop a treatment plan if needed. There could be other things causing your facial pain such as an ear infection, an abscessed tooth, or even tumors.
However, if your dentist diagnoses you with TMJ disorder, there are a variety of solutions they can apply to mitigate your symptoms. One of the most popular options is oral appliance therapy, which utilizes custom-made splints that gently reposition your jaw and realign your bite, relieving stress from your jaw joints.
Although the connection between TMJ disorder and women’s oral health is still being reviewed, there is evidence that points towards women being at a higher risk of experiencing issues. That said, if you suspect that your jaw pain is the result of TMJ disorder, don’t hesitate to speak with your dentist about possible treatment options.
About the Author
Dr. James Olsen received his dental doctorate from the University of Michigan School of Dentistry and is a proud member of several professional organizations including the American Dental Association and the Michigan Dental Association. His practice is pleased to offer many available services including TMJ therapy. If you have any questions about the article or would like to schedule a visit, you can contact Dr. Olsen through his practice’s website or over the phone: (734) 996-0200.
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