It’s not always easy being a woman - especially when it comes to your temporomandibular joint. That’s because, according to research, women ages 20 to 35 experience the most severe temporomandibular joint disorder symptoms of any age or gender group.
Temporomandibular joint disorder, or TMJ disorder, is a condition that occurs when the temporomandibular joint, which connects your lower jaw to your skull, is misaligned. This can cause everything from a minor clicking or popping sound when you open and close your mouth to head, neck, shoulder, back and jaw pain - as well as debilitating migraines, tinnitus (ringing of the ears), bruxism (teeth grinding), and the inability to speak, chew or even open and close the mouth.
So, what’s the connection between TMJ disorder and women? Despite a startling lack of research specifically about women and TMJ disorder, scientists theorize that it could be hormonal differences between male and female TMJ sufferers that make it so extreme. For example, scientists have discovered estrogen receptors in jaw tissue as well as in the brain. It’s their belief that this could be interfering with both the brain’s perception and its control of pain in female TMJ disorder sufferers.
Another hormone, progesterone, may also play a role. Lower levels of progesterone have been found to negatively impact bone, collagen, cartilage and certain proteins in the body. Researchers suggest that even vitamin deficiencies, such as a deficiency in magnesium, may be to blame, as many women of childbearing age are often low on magnesium.
Another suggested cause of TMJ disorder may be stress. This is because women are more likely to experience stress physically than men – meaning they are more likely to clench their jaw or grind their teeth than men. Worse yet, stress can negatively impact hormones, so being stressed can not only cause a hormonal imbalance, but can also worsen an existing one, and worsen TMJ disorder symptoms in the process.
Whatever your gender, if you believe you may be suffering from TMJ disorder, there are many treatment options that can help, such as neuromuscular dentistry. To learn more about your options, please give Dr. Lederman’s office a call at 516-882-1764.