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April 19, 2024

Women Have an Increased Risk of TMD

Filed under: Uncategorized — Dr. Donald Marks @ 4:18 pm

Woman with facial painYour temporomandibular joints (TMJ) are located just in front of your ears, connecting your jaw to your skull. The hinge-like joints allow you to open and close your mouth and make other movements necessary for your quality of life. Unfortunately, the joints can function incorrectly for various reasons. Recurring jaw pain is a common sign of a TMJ disorder. Although anyone can experience jaw dysfunction, researchers have found an increased risk for women. Not to mention, symptoms are also more severe. If you’re a woman suffering from jaw pain, here’s what you need to know about TMJ disorders.

What is a TMJ Disorder?

Temporomandibular dysfunction (TMJ) occurs when the joints don’t function correctly. Various factors contribute to TMJ disorders, like arthritis, a bad bite, or a past injury. Inflammation within the joint and surrounding tissues can cause a variety of symptoms, including:

  • Jaw locking in an open or closed position.
  • Jaw pain and tenderness.
  • Clicking, popping, or grating sensations in the joint.
  • Difficulty opening the mouth.
  • Ear pain or ringing in the ears.
  • Migraines and headaches.
  • Neck and shoulder pain.
  • Grinding and clenching teeth.

Women and TMJ Dysfunction

According to recent studies, 35 million people in the US suffer from TMD. Although it can affect anyone, women are 5 times more likely to experience TMD than men. It tends to affect women between the ages of 19-49. Not only are women more prone to TMJ disorders, but symptoms are often more severe than for men. Researchers have found that women are 9 times more likely to be diagnosed with major limitations in jaw function and chronic pain. 

The exact reason for a higher prevalence of TMD in women is unknown; however, hormones may be a cause. TMD is often diagnosed during childbearing years, which is when estrogen and progesterone are at their highest levels. 

Men and women also have anatomical differences. Men have longer, thicker, and wider jaws than women. As a result, the angle created by the upper and lower jaws creates a deeper temporal socket. Therefore, men’s jaws have more stability. 

In some instances, behavioral issues may be the culprit. Women often internalize stress, which can cause bad habits, like clenching or grinding teeth. Bruxism and TMD often go hand in hand because one can trigger the other. 

Women also process pain differently than men. Females also experience many other comorbid conditions, like endometriosis, migraines, and other issues that may coincide with TMJ. 

You don’t have to live with chronic jaw pain. Your dentist can improve your jaw function and quality of life with TMJ therapy. Better days are possible with TMD treatment.

About Dr. Donald Marks

Dr. Marks earned his dental degree at the University of Pittsburgh School of Dental Medicine and has continued his education in many specialties, like TMJ disorders. He strives to positively impact his patients’ quality of life using personalized solutions. Request an appointment through his website or call his office at (814) 826-3767.

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