Our understanding of TMJ is being transformed by the results of the Orofacial Pain Prospective Evaluation and Risk Assessment (OPPERA).
Miscellaneous Aches and Pains
The OPPERA study shows us that TMJ tends not to develop as a single condition, but often develops along with a number of other chronic health conditions. The primary risk factors for developing TMJ are:
Other face pain not explained by other conditions
Neck muscle soreness
Pain in the lower back
Pain in the genital area
The reason why lower back pain and genital area pain are risk factors is the whole-body connection that underlies TMJ. We’re not exactly sure how these connections work, which is why OPPERA has several follow-up studies, such as one exploring the link between TMJ and irritable bowel syndrome (IBS).
When talking to your doctor or a neuromuscular dentist about TMJ, don’t forget to mention any type of chronic or recurring pain. They may be connected.
Other Health Conditions
Other health conditions that may contribute to your risk of developing TMJ include smoking and disturbed sleep. These do not have as strong a correlation as the aches and pains, but they are still significant.
OPPERA also showed, as other studies have shown, that women are more likely to develop TMJ than men, but the connection in this study was not as strong. Where other studies have shown that women are six times more likely to develop TMJ or that 90% of people seeking treatment for TMJ were women of childbearing age, OPPERA showed only a weak correlation with gender, suggesting that men often develop TMJ, but don’t seek treatment.
Are You Developing TMJ?
If you think you might be developing TMJ, it’s important to have a thorough evaluation by a neuromuscular dentist.
Please contact Smile Columbia Dentistry in Columbia, SC today.