Temporomandibular joint disorder, or TMJ, can be an extremely painful condition.  It is also a common one.  According to the National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research, TMJ is the leading cause of facial pain, affecting five to 12 percent of Americans. Some estimates calculate that TMJ results in 17,800,000 lost work days per year for every 100,000,000 working adults in the United States. That is in part because TMJ can affect many body tissues, including muscles, nerves, tendons, ligaments, and teeth.  Now, a 2017 study has confirmed a link between TMJ and another common and uncomfortable problem: irritable bowel syndrome (IBS).

IBS is a functional intestinal disorder characterized by chronic pain or discomfort in the abdomen associated with altered bowel habits. The study, published in the World Journal of Gastroenterology, concluded that IBS patients had a more than three times greater risk of TMJ compared to those without IBS. Researchers also found that facial pain attributable to TMJ was positively related to abdominal pain and higher levels of depression.

Additionally, they discovered that patients with both IBS and TMD were not only more pain sensitive but also demonstrate reduced pain inhibition, which “may predispose to the development of other chronic pain syndromes (i.e., IBS leading to TMD) or may lead to the transition from a localized pain disorder to a widespread pain disorder.”

The 2017 study followed in the footsteps of a groundbreaking 2013 study called OPPERA (Orofacial Pain: Prospective Evaluation and Risk Assessment) which revealed that people who suffer from TMJ are also likely to suffer from other chronic pain conditions, including fibromyalgia and IBS. It estimated that as much as 60% of TMJ sufferers either have abdominal pain consistent with IBS or have been diagnosed with IBS.

Both studies found the correlation between TMJ and IBS to be more prevalent in women than in men.

While TMJ can be chronic and last years if you fail to combat it in its early stages, it

is treatable. Depending on the severity of your case, your specialist or dental professional might recommend steps as simple as self-care all the way to jaw surgery for anatomical irregularities. If you are experiencing symptoms of TMJ, you should contact our offices to arrange for a consultation and evaluation.

Assure A Smile: Miami Holistic Dentistry

The connection between TMJ and IBS as discussed in these studies is yet another example of why we practice holistic dentistry at Assure A Smile. Holistic dentistry is premised on the idea that oral health cannot and should not be viewed in isolation from other aspects of our health. As these studies make clear, problems elsewhere in the body can be intertwined with problems of the teeth, gums, and jaw.

If you have concerns about TMJ or want to learn more about the importance of holistic healthcare, please contact us online or call us at 305-274-0047.


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