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What increases risk for temporomandibular joint and muscle disorder (TMJ)?

Diana Meeks
Diana Meeks on behalf of Sigma Nursing
Family Practitioner

TMJ is most common in women between the ages of 30 and 50. There are some oral habits and conditions that increase the likelihood of developing TMJ. These include grinding the teeth, clenching the jaw, rheumatoid arthritis, fibromyalgia, or a defect present at birth. A blow to the head or face also can increase risk of developing TMJ.

Some factors that increase or can cause TMJ include:

  • problems resulting from arthritis, dislocation or injury 
  • injury and disease to muscles that move the joints
  • injuries to the jaw, head or neck
  • how the upper and lower teeth fit together (the bite)
  • stress and teeth grinding
There are many factors that can increase the risk of TMJ and/ or muscle disorder. These include; being hit in the mouth or jaw, clenching the teeth, being female, the lower jaw not developing properly, being abused, and stress.

Until recently most dentists thought a poor bite, (poor occlusion) was a significant factor but research in the last 10 years has indicated that the occlusion plays a limited role in increasing the risk of these disorders.

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.