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The Jaw Pain Gender Gap: Is TMD More Common in Women?

December 15, 2023

Filed under: Uncategorized — Cooklin and Ward Dental Group @ 2:52 pm
A woman suffering from jaw pain from TMD

Temporomandibular joint disorder (TMD) is a condition that affects the joint that connects the bottom jaw to the base of the skull. This often causes pain and discomfort as well as complications in chewing or swallowing. According to the TMJ Association, the disorder disproportionally affects women aged 18 – 49. But why is that?

If you want to learn more about TMD and its prevalence in women, continue reading.

Why Are Women More Susceptible to TMD?

Research studies by the TMJ Association and others have suggested that women may be more susceptible to TMD-related symptoms. Many of these studies cite hormonal fluctuations, especially during the menstrual cycle, pregnancy, or menopause as a possible reason.

How Do Hormonal Factors Affect TMD Symptoms?

Estrogen, a hormone that fluctuates significantly in women, has been studied for its potential role in TMD symptoms. Research suggests that changes in estrogen levels may affect pain perception and the sensitivity of the TMJ. This could potentially influence the prevalence and severity of jaw pain.

Are There Other Gender-Based Physiological Concerns?

The TMJ itself is physically different in women than it is in men. In men, the upper jaw bones, also known as the maxillary, are longer, wider, and thicker. The angle formed by the upper and lower parts of the lower jaw is also narrower. Additionally, the head of the jawbone is larger, and the socket it fits into is deeper.

This means that, generally, men have a more stable joint than women. This could go further to explain why women have more instances of TMD than men.

Why Does Gender Matter When Discussing TMD Treatment?

Understanding gender differences in TMD including hormonal and physiological differences, is important for effective treatment. For instance, if a patient’s TMD is triggered by hormones instead of their teeth or jaw, treatment strategies would change.

Management of TMD is different for every patient and may include different options. Stress reduction, lifestyle modifications, and, in some cases, dental work are all effective but must be applied correctly for success.

Contact your dentist if you’re feeling persistent jaw pain and don’t delay. The quicker you receive treatment for TMD, the faster you can go back to sleeping, smiling, and enjoying life pain-free.

About the Author

Dr. Vy Tran is a bright and talented dentist with a passion for patient care. She enjoys getting to know her patients and ensuring that every visit is a great experience. She received her dental doctorate at the University of Maryland at Baltimore and has since expanded her skillset through continuing education at the world-renowned Pankey Institute. Call (410) 729-9090 to schedule a TMJ treatment consultation at Transcendent Smiles or visit the website to learn more.

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