The King Lab at the University of New England recently published research that showed how TMD pain affects genders differently. The lab focuses on finding new ways to treat TMJ by capturing a better understanding of the biological mechanisms that power it. Dr. Tamara King, an associate professor of physiology, runs the lab and formed a research team that comprised of an undergraduate student, pre-dental student, and a master’s student. They discovered major differences in the way TMJ pain emerges in different sexes.
In the study, Dr. King and her team discovered that TMJ pain emerges easier and produces less joint damage than with men. They also discovered that women are not more likely to have TMJ pain due to bone or joint damage. The major difference between men and women is how they process the pain.
The study also found that the centralized nerve system plays a role in pain. When the TMJ pain moves past the damaged joints, this means that the centralized nervous system plays a part in increasing the pain. They described this phenomenon as “central sensitization.” When this phenomenon occurs, it’s often linked with drug resistance for pain medication. This could explain why TMJ is so difficult to treat.
Research also discovered that women can develop pain with central sensitization more easily than men. This could explain why TMJ is more common among women – they’re more likely to experience severe pain.
If you believe you have TMJ because you show symptoms like jaw pain, clicking and popping when you open and close your mouth, frequent migraines, sore or stiff neck, back or shoulders, you should schedule a consultation with Dr. Van Tassell at our Burkburnett dental office for TMJ treatment.
During your visit with Dr. Van Tassell, he will first give you an evaluation to see if TMJ is the cause of your pain and other symptoms. If he discovers that you have TMJ, he will move forward with a treatment plan. Traditionally, most treatment plans begin with moving your jaw to its optimal position. He accomplishes this through neuromuscular dentistry by measuring the relaxed position of your neck and head muscles, and then by repositioning your jaw to those same measurements.
We help your bite and jaw move into the optimal position with help from an orthotic. This will train your mouth to hold your bite in a comfortable position. We may also need to give you other restorations like dental crowns or veneers to get your bite just right. Once your treatment is complete, you will notice a significant difference and your pain should subside.