Temporomandibular joint disorders or TMJ disorders affect both men and women. Women report suffering from TMJ disorder symptoms as much as five times more frequently than men. According to the US National Library of Medicine, “The expansive body of literature in this area clearly suggests that men and women differ in their responses to pain, with increased pain sensitivity and risk for clinical pain commonly being observed among women.”
In addition to a higher rate of diagnosis, women often have more severe symptoms compared to men.
Why Do More Women Experience TMJ Disorders?
While men are traditionally harder on their bodies and don’t seek medical attention as often as women, the differences in frequency and severity remain largely unanswered. The reason why women experience TMD at higher rates and greater severity than men is debated, but there are some theories. These theories include the hormonal, anatomic, behavioral, and genetic differences between the sexes.
- Hormones: Some researchers have suggested that estrogen and progesterone hormonal fluctuations may be responsible. According to this line of thought, the higher estrogen and progesterone levels during a woman’s childbearing years cause ligament laxity. As the jaw’s ligaments become relaxed, it negatively affects the TMJ.
- Anatomy: The physical shape of men’s jaws may contribute to the differences in TMJ pain reports. Because the male jaw is less obtuse than the female jaw, this may create a more stable environment for men’s TMJs during use.
- Behavior: Behaviors can be a significant contributor to the development of TMD. For example, some researchers believe stress may cause women to clench and grind their teeth more than men. This behavior can lead to more stress on the TMJ and thus resulting in more symptoms.
- Genetics: Recent advances in genetics have revealed that subtle DNA changes could partly explain the variation in individual differences in pain.
Treating TMJ in Pittsburgh, PA
Effective TMJ treatment requires a multi-faceted approach from a neuromuscular dental professional. TMJ can cause a broad spectrum of symptoms making it difficult to diagnose and treat. Dr. Firouzi at the Center for Exceptional Dentistry specializes in TMJ and sleep apnea treatment making his office an excellent resource for those in need of relief. Visit our contact page here or call (412) 274-1126 today for more information.