No Link Between Jaw Pain and Estrogen

Study clears hormone of causing aching

Dental researchers have spent years trying to uncover why women suffer the most from temporomandibular disorders (TMD), which cause pain at the joint where the jaw hinges. Scientists had previously uncovered a link between the use of supplemental estrogen and TMD pain, but that connection was made using medical history files, which sometimes produce skewed results.

Researchers at the University of Texas Health Science Center in San Antonio have good news for women who use hormone replacement therapy or take birth control pills containing estrogen. A new study exonerates the hormone. "We found absolutely no link between taking estrogen and having the signs and symptoms of TMD," says John P. Hatch, a professor of orthodontics and director of the university's Facial Pain Clinic.

The San Antonio Express-News describes the study. You can also read the clinical abstract from the Journal of the American Dental Association.

Most people with TMDs don't have severe problems, and simple measures often work to relieve the pain. These include eating soft foods, and using stress-reduction techniques or exercises that stretch and relax the jaw muscles.

The U.S. National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research has more detailed information on treating TMDs.

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