Why do more women have jaw pain?

2022/05/10 Home Education and advice

Why do more women have jaw pain?
Erin Cox Erin Cox Physiotherapist

Temporomandibular joint disorder (TMD) is described as jaw muscle, joint, and/or nerve pains which can be localized to the jaw area but can also spread to other regions such as the head & neck.

Although men, women, and children can experience jaw pain, women are 4x more likely to have TMD and 90% of those with TMD are women in their childbearing years. In our clinic, 79% of the patients who had consultations with physiotherapists for TMD pain were women.

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A major scientific study lasting 5 years through the National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research showed several factors affecting TMD such as stress, jaw injury, smoking, hormones, and stressful life events which can cause increased jaw muscle tension, often made worse by grinding or clenching at night. Women who take oral contraceptives or require hormone replacement therapy have a higher chance of experiencing jaw pain. Low progesterone, another hormone that affects bones and cartilage, may also contribute to jaw pain in women. It has also been shown that women are more likely to suffer from chronic TMD or more severe TMD symptoms when they have chronic overlapping pain conditions and may experience feeling tired, short of breath, dizzy, chest pain and having trouble sleeping. This can all lead to difficulty in how the body processes or deals with pain.


Symptoms of TMD in both men and women include pain in the jaw area, headaches, neck and shoulder pain, restricted mouth opening, a “locking” sensation when opening or closing the mouth, hearing a “click” or “pop”, ringing in the ears (tinnitus), and trouble chewing. Researchers have found that in both males and females, 92% of the complaints were regarding pain in the temporal muscle (side of the head) and 89% of the complaints were regarding mouth opening. However, more females complained about masseter muscle (cheek muscle) pain, clicking, grinding, and jaw pain during rest.


The TMJ (temporomandibular joint) and the surrounding muscles can be treated by physiotherapists trained in this area. A global collaborative approach involving other healthcare professionals can be an even better approach to treating women suffering from TMD.


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If you have pain and have been looking into getting some help, or simply wanting to know what the cause of your knee pain is, remember we are always here to help you!

It is also normal to have questions when trying something new. We now offer the possibility to schedule a free orientation call with a therapist to help you decide if physiotherapy is right for you!

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