Did you know that about 90% of the ten million reported cases of people affected by TMJ are made by women in their child-bearing years? In fact, studies revealed that women are about three times more likely than men to seek treatment for temporomandibular disorders and the ratio of the number of women seeking help for severe TMJ symptoms as compared to men is 9 to 1. These ratios only get higher as the severity of the disorder increases, thus indicating that women are more susceptible to the malfunctioning of the temporomandibular joint as opposed to men.
Why Are Women More Susceptible to TMJ Disorders?
Pain can affect men and women differently. The main reason for such a disparity is the difference in the level of hormones between men and women. These hormones essentially function as chemical messengers within the body and can have a lot of side effects when the levels fluctuate. Women of childbearing age are especially susceptible to such hormonal imbalances and tend to have pronounced fluctuations in their levels of estrogen and progesterone, thereby putting them at the highest risk of developing TMD.
Apart from hormonal fluctuations, stress is also a leading cause of female TMD. Stress is one of the main predisposing factors for TMD and chronic anxiety and stress are known to affect more women than men.
Are Hormones the Only Cause of TMJ Disorders in Women?
Stress is another key factor that may contribute to more TMJ problems in women as women handle stress very differently from men. Research has linked chronic stress and anxiety with TMJ. For example, many TMJ sufferers clench or grind their teeth at night. This stress-related subconscious action can interfere with the working of the TMJ.
While the various studies conducted on the matter have provided us with promising results, further research is required to better understand the complexity of the disorder and why women are largely affected by it.
What Can Women Do To Reduce Their Risk?
TMD sufferers usually experience the following symptoms:
- Jaw pain
- Tinnitus, or ringing in the ears
- Neck aches or stiff neck
- Radiating pain in the face
- Inability to open jaw wide
- Pain when chewing
- Popping and clicking of the jaw
If you are facing any of the symptoms mentioned above, you must visit your dentist immediately and get your jaw checked. Discuss your symptoms with your dentist to understand if the cause of such discomfort is related to your TMJ or is an indicator of another health issue. Depending on the severity of the disorder, your dentist will then provide you with solutions to help alleviate the pain, which can range from simple self-care solutions or jaw exercises to facilitate the movement of your jaw bone and joint.
In some case cases, such pain or discomfort may be caused due to stress and will require you to take additional care of your jaw. Your dentist will be able to provide you with jaw exercises and a well-balanced diet to help avoid the chances of agitating the jaw bone and retaining its function.
You can also perform a period assessment to keep a check on your jaw function. Apart from checking for pain while chewing, swallowing and talking, you should be able to fit at least 3 fingers between your jaws when opening wide, while being able to your lower jaw side to side without pain. If you can perform these activities without any discomfort or pain, you can rest assured that your TMJ is working fine. However, if you feel any limitation in terms of movement or hear loud joint noises, you must get your jaw checked immediately.
If you need more information on TMD or the TMJ treatment plans and preventative measures, make an appointment with Joshua Hong DDS, an experienced dental clinic in Goodyear, AZ and receive expert guidance today!