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Risk Factors for TMJ Disorder : A risk factor is anything that predisposes you to catching a disease or condition. Therefore, you will need to be exposed to one or more risk factors to get a disease. The more the risk factors you are exposed to, the more the likelihood of being affected.

Temporomandibular joint (TJM) syndrome is a group of conditions that affect temporomandibular joint areas. TMJ syndrome is usually a self-limiting and a very common disorder. TMJ patients usually experience chronic pains and discomforts such as lower back pain, fibromyalgia, and headaches which is the main focus during TJM treatment. In some cases, the patients suffer jaw malfunctions which are associated with teeth clenching and grinding.

Below are some of the risk factors that can predispose an individual to TMJ. However, you can develop TMJ syndrome without being predisposed to various risk factors listed below.

If you are exposed to many of these risk factors, it is important to ask your health care provider on possible ways to reduce your risk.

TMJ syndrome risk factors

1. Stress

Stress is one of the major predisposing factors that increase the risk of catching TMJ syndrome. Some of the stressing habits likely to increase an individual’s risk of getting TMJ syndrome include:

  • Grinding your teeth at night during sleep or during the day
  • Regularly or constantly chewing things such as gum for a long period of time
  • Constantly clenching and unclenching your jaw

2. Medical conditions

The following are some of the medical conditions that are likely to increase your risk of catching TMJ syndrome:

  • Facial and jaw deformities
  • Arthritic conditions such as osteoarthritis, and rheumatoid arthritis
  • Misaligned bite and teeth
  • History of facial or jaw injuries such as dislocations or fractures of the mandibles

3. Age

Most cases of TMJ syndrome symptoms have been reported among people aged 30 to 50 years of age. Therefore, people within this age group are more susceptible to suffering from TMJ syndrome.

4. Gender

Studies reveal that women are three times more susceptible to catching TMJ syndrome as compared to men. The risk of chronic TMJ among women increases significantly between the ages 18 to 44 years.

Studies have found that TMJ syndrome risk is high during childbearing years but decreases thereafter.

5. Ill-fitting dentures

Improperly fitted dentures after a jaw injury may be a risk factor that predisposes one to TMJ syndrome.

Other risk factors

It has been suggested that women who take hormone replacement therapy have a high likelihood of developing TMJ syndrome symptoms. Several studies that have been done on the TMJ syndrome suggest a link between TMJ syndrome and mitral valve prolapse.

Variability in genetics has also been shown to be a risk factor. People who have alterations in several genes are likely to suffer from TMJ syndrome. Some of these altered genes are known to influence stress response, inflammation, and psychological well-being. Therefore, the understanding of these phenomena has aided the research for drugs to be used in TMJ treatment.

It is also important to note that TMJ syndrome susceptibility is not related to low socio-economic status of an individual. This is unlike other chronic conditions. For example, socioeconomic status has been found to have a profound effect on sciatica, musculoskeletal pain, neuropathic pain, and ulcer.

Final word

The above-discussed factors are the major predisposing factors to TMJ. However, you should note that TMJ syndrome can be caused with or without exposure to the above factors. Women are the most susceptible to catching the TMJ syndrome as compared to men especially during their child bearing age. If you are more exposed to the above factors, you need to consider visiting your doctor or healthcare provider to give you tips on how to reduce the risks. Prevention is always better than TMJ treatment.

These risk factors can be broadly be classified into psychological distress, genetics, pain amplification, and history of physical and psychological trauma.