3 Reasons You Can Develop TMJ During Pregnancy
There are three main reasons that women are susceptible to the symptoms of TMJ during pregnancy. They are:
1. Disrupted Sleep
If you can’t get comfortable or need to get up multiple times every night, your disrupted sleep can cause your brain to become aroused. Many studies suggest an association between brain arousals and the onset of teeth clenching and grinding (sleep bruxism).
Sleep bruxism is considered a sleep-related jaw movement disorder and is often responsible for the onset of TMJ during pregnancy. If your jaw muscles feel stiff, if they’re locking or clicking, or if you have headaches or jaw pain, you may be clenching and grinding.
In addition to bruxism, normal weight gain can increase the potential for TMJ during pregnancy due to sleep disturbances caused by snoring, sleep apnea, or both.
2. Morning Sickness
The early stages of pregnancy are characterized by unrelenting nausea and frequent vomiting for many women. Because vomiting puts extreme pressure on your shoulder and neck muscles and causes your jaw to be violently thrust forward, it can sprain jaw ligaments and strain jaw muscles, resulting in stiffness and jaw pain during pregnancy. Although morning sickness typically lasts a short time, that can be just long enough for TMJ problems to start (or to reoccur).
3. The Hormone, Relaxin
Relaxin is a hormone that helps the ligaments in your pelvis to elongate and accommodate the delivery of your baby. As you get closer to your delivery date, the level of relaxin in your bloodstream will increase.
While relaxin is a very helpful hormone, it also affects ligaments in other parts of your body, making them laxer. It’s not unusual for expectant moms to experience the effects of relaxin on their jaw ligaments when their jaw gets stuck open during a routine dental exam, and their dentist has to close it for them! Jaw pain during pregnancy often starts then.