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Jaw Pain During Pregnancy 

If you’ve been suffering from jaw pain during your pregnancy – or other jaw symptoms such as locking or clicking, you are not alone. Being a woman puts you at a higher risk of developing TMJ problems, and about three-quarters of our patients are women. For many, the first time they experience TMJ is during their pregnancy, and some see a re-emergence of past problems when they’re pregnant. 

In either case, jaw pain during pregnancy can upset what should be a joyous time in your life.

As board-certified Orofacial Pain specialists, we have helped hundreds of expectant moms find relief for TMJ during pregnancy and its symptoms of jaw pain, facial pain, and sleep breathing disorders. If you’re suffering, we want you to know your problem is familiar to us – we understand your symptoms, have compassion for what you’re going through and have many treatment options designed to help you feel better.

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.

How We Treat TMJ During Pregnancy At New York TMJ & Orofacial Pain

Empathy and compassion are the bedrock of our practice here at New York TMJ & Orofacial Pain. When you arrive for your appointment, we will spend some time getting to know you not just as a patient but as a person. We’ll ask you some important questions, such as:

  • “Is it hard for you to get into a comfortable position in bed?”
  • “How well do you sleep at night?“
  • “Do you (or did you) have morning sickness?”
  • “Does your bed partner tell you that you snore or breath in a labored way while you’re sleeping?”

We will design a treatment for TMJ during pregnancy plan specifically for you, which may include one or more of the following: 

  • If you struggle to breathe at night, we may recommend a special pillow or body positioner to help you breathe more easily and sleep more restfully.
  • Bedtime jaw exercises and massage techniques to reduce jaw muscle tension that you may have developed during the day.
  • Daytime jaw exercises if your jaw joint feels unstable or locks open.
  • Breathing exercises for calming and restfulness.
  • Referral to a massage therapist, physical therapist, or both to address the jaw and neck muscle tension that is common during pregnancy.
  • Dry needling or trigger point injections into your tight neck or jaw muscles if massage and physical therapy isn’t doing the trick. 
  • A custom oral appliance to control the effects of sleep bruxism and morning jaw pain, headaches, tooth sensitivity, joint clicking, and lockjaw. 
  • Another type of oral appliance that will help to keep your airway open at night and reduce the effects of sleep apnea.

We know that jaw pain during pregnancy, and other TMJ symptoms can be frightening. But they are common conditions we see all the time in our practice, and we have many thoughtful treatment methods that will help you feel better and enjoy this special time.

For relief from jaw pain during pregnancy or other TMJ issues, make an appointment at one of our three offices in the NYC metropolitan area by calling 888-560-6674. If you can’t call, please complete this quick form , and we’ll get back to you as soon as possible.

Are you experiencing postpartum TMJ? Read Postpartum TMJ Pain – What Causes It & How To Get Relief