Temporomandibular joint (TMJ) disorder (TMD) is far from rare; according to the National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research, between 5 and 12 percent of the population is affected by the disease.
Certain groups of people are more likely than others to develop TMD, due to genetic, hormonal and environmental factors. In this post, New Jersey TMJ specialist Ivan Stein reveals who is at greatest risk of TMD problems.
People with Certain Medical Conditions
Certain medical conditions have been linked to the occurrence of TMD. A good example is inflammatory disorders like rheumatoid arthritis or osteoarthritis, which can damage the cartilage of the TMJ.
According to the TMJ Association, scientists have discovered that as many as 85 percent of people with TMD have other painful health conditions, including chronic fatigue syndrome, fibromyalgia, irritable bowel syndrome and lower back pain. Further research is needed to understand the exact relationship between TMD and these “comorbid” conditions.
Chronic Teeth Grinders or Clenchers
Habitually grinding the teeth or clenching and unclenching the jaw puts enormous pressure on the jaw muscles and tissues, which can often lead to TMJ problems.
People Who Are Highly Stressed
People who experience chronic stress are more likely to grind or clench the teeth. They can also experience increased muscle tension in the face, neck and jaw, eventually developing TMJ problems.
People with Jaw Injuries
A jaw injury or trauma (such as a sports injury or a blow to the jaw) can dislocate the joint or put strain on the muscles responsible for opening and closing the jaw.
Although both men and women experience TMJ problems, the TMJ Association says that women make up the majority of people seeking treatment for these problems. In serious cases, characterized by major limitations in jaw movement and chronic pain, there are nine women to every one man seeking treatment.
Experts have a few theories to explain this. First, women are more likely to report anxiety and stress, and more likely to suffer from the aforementioned pain conditions that overlap with TMD. There is also a possible link between hormones and TMD, as some studies have found that women using estrogen supplements and oral contraceptives are more likely to seek treatment for TMJ. However, more research is needed to make any definitive claims about the role of hormones in TMJ problems.
If you are experiencing jaw pain or other symptoms of TMD, Dr. Stein can help. Please contact or email us to schedule a consultation with the doctor today.