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TMJ FAQ

I've heard women are far more likely to have Temporomandibular Disorder. Why?

Yes, 90% of the cases of TMJ Disorder (the dysfunction of the hinge that connects the lower jaw to the upper) is among women 18-44. Pre-menopausal women often have calcium and magnesium deficiencies that affect bone density, including any joints like the TMJ. The protein known as collagen that hold disks in place between the joint's ball and sockets is weaker in women than men, making the joints more likely to dislocate. There is some evidence menstruation may cause vitamin deficiencies that contribute to TMJD. Rheumatoid arthritis and osteoarthritis are much more common in women and can damage the joints and cause joint pain.

Women who undergo hormone replacement therapy or take oral contraceptives report more jaw pain, which suggests a link.

Emotional stress is often a factor in developing TMJD and it isn't hard to imagine the special stresses women experience managing careers and families. Stress can cause clenching of teeth or grinding them, which can throw the jaw out of place. Excessive chewing of gum, often a way to deal with stress, can do the same thing.

Of course, both genders can have their TMJ dislocated due to head trauma, poor bite alignment, or missing teeth.

How is TMJD diagnosed?

According the WebMD, the TMJ is one of the most complex joints in the body. The most common symptoms of dysfunction are difficulty in opening and closing the mouth, accompanied by popping or clicking sounds when attempted, and pain in the joints, on the side of the face, neck or shoulders. There can also be muscle spasms, stiff muscles in the jaw, swelling on the side of the face, and patients may experience dizziness, headaches, earaches, and occasional ringing in the ears (not all the time, as in tinnitus). The dentists at Wilshire Smile Studio are very familiar with such signs that can be confirmed during a full dental exam. If there is some question about the diagnosis, a digital x-ray can provide evidence.

What relief for TMJD can Wilshire Smile Studio provide?

Often we can create an orthotic splint, a plastic oral appliance worn during the day, which will gradually adjust the bite to its proper place. If grinding teeth when you sleep is a habit that is contributing to misalignment, we can create a customized nightguard to wear when you go to bed. We also can teach you some simple exercises to stretch and relax the jaw and will advise you to avoid chewing gum or your nails. Those who have a tendency to TMJD should more soft foods and avoid those that require a lot of chewing. The underlying issue may also require dental surgery, Invisalign orthodontic trays, or crowns or bridges to improve the bite. We can also refer you to medical specialists, chiropractors, acupuncturists, physical therapists, ultrasound or laser therapy.

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The TMJ Center of Los Angeles by Wilshire Smile Studio provides TMJ pain treatment, as well as general and cosmetic dentistry, oral surgery, and more.
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