adult woman holding her jaw in painAlthough everyone is at risk for temporomandibular joint disorders (called TMJ or TMD), women are much more likely to experience this condition. How much more likely? We’re not entirely sure. Estimates range from women being twice as likely to have the condition up to them being nine times more likely to have the condition than men. What is well documented is that when it comes to treatment, four times as many women seek TMJ treatment in Detroit as men: women make up 80% of TMJ patients. Why do women have more TMJ? Again, we’re not entirely sure, though we’ll discuss several theories that have evidence to support them. 

What we are entirely sure of is that both men and women can get long-lasting, sometimes permanent relief with treatment by the Detroit TMJ dentists at the Michigan Head & Neck Institute in Warren, MI.

Why Do Women Experience More TMJ Problems Than Men?

There are several potential explanations for why more women than men experience TMJ. Although studies have not confirmed that any one of these factors accounts for the full difference, it may be the combined effect of these different factors that account for the disparity. 

Hormones

Hormones are often considered a potential explanation for why women and men have different experiences, and there is some evidence that hormones, especially estrogen, may be at least partly responsible for the prevalence of TMJ disorders in women. These hormones can contribute to ligament laxity, allowing more play in the jaw joints. This can make it easier for the joint to develop an imbalance or unhealthy biting, chewing, and swallowing habits. 

Anatomical Differences

Although there is a range that overlaps between men and women, men generally have longer and wider jaw bones. This can help make the male jaw more stable under normal function and more resistant to the types of trauma that lead to the development of TMJ. 

Stress

Stress can contribute significantly to the development of TMJ. This is often mediated by stress-related behaviors such as bruxism (teeth clenching and grinding) and parafunctional chewing on objects like fingernails and pens. Women may carry high levels of stress for many reasons, including social micro-aggressions, higher emotional labor loads, and less free time than men. 

Pain Sensitivity

Women may also be more sensitive to pain, or they may be more prone to the type of sensitization that could explain TMJ and other chronic pain disorders. Women and men experience pain differently. It’s not just that women may have a more pronounced response to pain, but they also process pain differently. This could make women more likely to develop “sensitization” to pain, which is one explanation for TMJ. 

Antidepressant Use

Bruxism is a common side effect of some antidepressants. People taking antidepressants might develop TMJ as a result. Since about twice as many women are taking antidepressants as men, this could account for much of the difference.

Why Women and Men in Detroit Get Better Care from a TMJ Dentist

Of course, the difficulty women face from TMJ is not just the condition’s prevalence. It’s also that doctors may not give them good care for their condition. Many people with TMJ may spend years, even decades, suffering from the condition before they can find effective care. Here’s why a TMJ dentist is a better choice for treating your TMJ.

Better Understanding of the Condition

Your general physician may not have a strong grasp of TMJ. Surveys of GPs and family practitioners often show significant gaps in knowledge about TMJ. This may make it harder for them to recognize, diagnose, and treat TMJ. 

Specialized Training, Experience, and Tools

There is no recognized dental specialty for TMJ treatment, but there is specialized training focused on the condition. In addition, TMJ dentists limit their practice to focus specifically on TMJ and closely related conditions. This allows them to build their skills with lessons that experience teaches about the condition. Plus, dentists invest in tools specifically for treating TMJ so they’re better equipped to give patients short-term and long-term relief. 

Better Listeners

It is an unfortunate truth that both doctors and patients are victims of the medical-industrial complex that demands high levels of productivity. Doctors have to limit the amount of time they spend with patients carefully, so they may not be able to take the time to listen to patients’ descriptions of their symptoms. This may be even worse for women, who often feel their doctors aren’t listening and giving credit to their symptoms. 

TMJ dentists know that proper diagnosis and treatment of TMJ is complex and that it’s essential to take the time to listen to patients. They will give you time to describe what you’re going through so they can match you with the best TMJ treatment for you if you need it.

Get TMJ Treatment in Detroit

Are you experiencing TMJ symptoms? Do you want to get relief? Let a TMJ dentist at the Michigan Head & Neck Institute evaluate your symptoms. They’ll let you know if TMJ is the cause and recommend appropriate treatment. 

Please call (586) 573-0438 or use our online form today to request an appointment at the Michigan Head & Neck Institute, serving the Detroit area, from our dental office in Warren, MI.