For every man with TMJ, nine women suffer from the condition. That means the incidence in women is a whopping 800 percent higher than men. There are many reasons women are far more likely to have TMJ, and seeing a dental specialist is the first step in a proper diagnosis.
Phuong Le, DMD, and Uyen Hoang, DMD at Le Dentistry offer comprehensive exams for each patient at every checkup. Using state-of-the-art tools and procedures, our providers identify TMJ swiftly to reduce discomfort as fast as possible. We’ll work with you in creating a personalized treatment plan to ease or end TMJ pain.
What is TMJ?
The temporomandibular joint is one of the most intricate joints in the human body. It acts like a hinge as it moves forwards, backward, and sideways. While chewing, this essential joint is subjected to tremendous pressure. The amount of force depends on your upper and lower teeth alignment, which acts as a kind of doorstop when the joints close.
The temporomandibular joints are the connections between your skull’s temporal bone and the lower jaw bone (mandible). There are two temporomandibular joints located on both sides of your head, right in front of your ears. Tendons, ligaments, and muscles support the joints and are responsible for the mobility of the jaw. Temporomandibular joint disease (TMJ) is caused by problems in the muscles or joints of the jaw or associated connective tissue.
Why are women more prone to TMJ?
There are many possible reasons that women suffer from TMJ more often than men. Here are just a few.
Estrogen may be one culprit responsible for TMJ. As you age and estrogen production decreases, you’re more likely to have osteoarthritis of the jaw, which can damage one or both sides. Osteoarthritis weakens or destroys the soft and hard tissues surrounding your jaw joints.
Bruxism, also known as teeth grinding, is another offender that causes TMJ. According to Texas A&M Health, women who have awake bruxism clench their jaw during the day and grind their teeth regularly during the night, more often than their male counterparts.
3. Stress and anxiety
According to clinical studies, chronic stress is the main reason patients seek medical advice, and women are more likely to discuss stress-related issues with their provider. Stress causes insomnia, depression, and anxiety, among other problems. Stress is also a primary cause of jaw tension and gnashing of teeth.
Pregnant women also experience stress, but they may also face vitamin deficiencies. A lack of vitamins such as magnesium, phosphorous, and vitamin D can lead to problems related to TMJ.
Fibromyalgia is a long-term condition that causes tenderness, fatigue, muscle and bone pain, and sleep disturbances that affect five to ten million adults. Among those, 75 to 90 percent of those diagnosed with fibromyalgia are women. TMJ can also accompany this disorder in many patients.
Could I have TMJ?
Those affected by TMJ suffer from headaches and tenderness of the jaw muscles or hear cracking noises in the jaw joints.
The most common symptom of TMJ disorder is pain. Temporomandibular joint pain is often described as a dull ache in the jaw and surrounding head areas, including the ears. However, some people feel no pain despite the joint malfunctioning. Other symptoms can include:
- Pain in the neck and shoulders
- Migraines or chronic headaches
- Restrictions in movement of the jaw
- Painful cracking, popping, or rubbing in the jaw joint when opening or closing the mouth
- A bite that doesn’t feel it’s aligned properly
- Earache, pressure, or ringing in the ears
- Decreased hearing
- Dizziness and blurred vision
Sometimes women with TMJ problems recover without any treatment, and the pain goes away on its own over a few weeks or months. However, if you’re experiencing any of these symptoms that don’t go away, we can usually diagnose TMJ through a physical exam. Imaging techniques are also used in some cases.
TMJ can range from mild discomfort to extreme pain, causing problems in your everyday routine activities. If you’re experiencing pain that you think might be TMJ, call us today to make an appointment.