Temporomandibular joints disorders – or TMJ disorders – can happen to anyone at any age, but if you’re a woman between the ages of 18 and 44, then you’re at more risk than others. For every one man with a TMJ disorder, there are 9 women suffering from the condition and the chronic pain it brings with it. If you’re still in your childbearing years, you’ll want to be extra aware of the risk factors for jaw problems. Read on to learn everything you’ll need to know to protect your TMJ and keep your smile as comfortable as possible.
Why are Women at Higher Risk for TMJ Disorders?
That’s something that hasn’t been answered yet. Researchers theorize it could have something to do with differences in jaw anatomy, physiology, and pain perception between the sexes, as well as different reactions to pain medication. The presence of estrogen receptors in the jaw tissue are also thought to play a role. That said, experts are still investigating what makes some people more susceptible to TMJ disorders than others.
What are the Risk Factors for TMJ Disorders?
In addition to age and sex, there are a number of risk factors that can contribute to jaw problems, such as:
- Various types of arthritis
- Grinding or clenching of the teeth at night for a very long time
- Injury to the jaw
- Connective tissue diseases that affect the temporomandibular joint
- Misaligned teeth that affect the distribution of pressure on the jaw joints
- Habitually chewing on the same side of the mouth
Sometimes the causes of a TMJ disorder are completely unknown, but the condition can still be diagnosed and treated.
What Should I Do if I Have a TMJ Disorder?
First of all, you’ll want to make sure that your jaw pain is really caused by TMJ disorder and not a separate condition that can also cause facial pain. Your dentist will have the expertise to identify problems with the jaw joint before helping you put together a treatment plan. The solution may vary from person to person depending on the nature of their particular disorder. For example, you might receive an occlusal splint that repositions the jaw and helps the surrounding muscles relax. You might also undergo TENS therapy. TENS stands for transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation; essentially, electrical impulses are used to block your pain receptors so as to stop the constant discomfort of your TMJ disorder in the short term while beginning other forms of treatment.
New research is being performed all the time to better understand TMJ disorders in women. In the meantime, though, be sure to take advantage of the solutions that your dentist can already offer to help you regain a lifestyle free of pain.
About the Author
Dr. Jennifer Pham has spent over a decade in the dental field combining art and science to create dazzling smiles. She has also been trained to diagnose and treat TMJ disorders and can help treat your jaw pain. If you or someone else in your family is suffering from jaw pain, schedule a consultation at Downtown Family Dental of Leesberg by visiting our website or calling (703) 777-5600.