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Chances of TMJ Going Away After Pregnancy

If you developed TMJ pain while you're pregnant, it could go away after giving birth but there's a chance it may never go away.


temporomandibular joint

Typically the condition is induced by stress and while pregnancy is stressful, the first few months of taking care of a newborn is even more stressful. So, there is a good chance that it may be here to stay... at least for awhile.


TMJ pain started while pregnant

If you only started developing TMJ pain after getting pregnant, there's a chance it may go away after giving birth.


If you understand the cause for why you got it in the first place, it will make a lot more sense. Although we would like to point out that this only applies if you did not develop TMD due to some type of injury.


Deteriorating TMJ disc
Deteriorating TMJ disc

If you were not involved in any type of accident that sustained an injury to your jaw, your TMJ pain is most likely stress induced. In other words, you're probably stressed out and taking it out on your teeth and mouth in the middle of the night. People usually grind their teeth or clench them as an outlet for their stress.


Continuous teeth grinding and clenching for 6-8 hours while you sleep can tire out your TMJ muscles and consequently the joint itself. Once the jaw muscles become overworked, they can develop muscle knots that will spontaneously spasm. These sporadic episodes can cause discomfort or even excruciating pain sometimes.


Basically, your TMJ pain is induced by stress but is a result of overused jaw muscles. The pain that you get from this is similar to if you were working out your muscles at the gym for 6-8 hours straight and every single day. That would be a recipe for sore, tender, and painful muscles. Your TMJ muscles are no exception.


TMJ muscles
TMJ muscles

Fortunately after you give birth, most of stress which you were feeling should subside. You should find yourself grinding and clenching your teeth less. In other words, that TMJ pain you've been having should go away after pregnancy.


Although you may start experiencing a different kind of stress from having to nurse a newborn child. Having to wake up in the middle of the night to nurse your child every few hours can be extremely stressful and taxing to the body. What we're trying to say is that there is a possibility your TMD may continue as well.


It may very well last until after you're done with the nightly feedings. So, the TMJ from pregnancy may last longer than just the pregnancy itself but don't worry it will eventually go away.


What to do about it

There are three things which you can implement to address the pain coming from your TMJ.

  • Night guard. Have your dentist make you a mouth guard to wear at night to protect your teeth from grinding. It'll prevent the enamel from wearing away.

  • Myofascial release. You can see a massage therapist or physical therapist and have them release the muscle knots. They'll also give you TMJ exercises to do to stretch out the muscles.

  • De-stress. We know that pregnancy itself is stressful but there is always room for improvement. You can have your husband take over more of the household chores and things like that. It'll relieve some of the stress burden on you!


night guard
night guard

Temporomandibular joint pain from an injury during pregnancy

Alternatively, you could've sustained some type of injury to your jaw while you're pregnant which could have resulted in you having TMJ problems. For example, you may have fallen or got into a mild car accident. All of those are potentials for injuring the temporomandibular joint.


If that is the case for you, even after you give birth to your newborn child the TMJ problem most likely will not go away. The reason being that it did not develop due to pregnancy but rather from an injury which you sustained while pregnant.


You should definitely follow up with your doctor in regards to a TMD caused by an injury. They definitely won't resolve all on their own.


Pre-existing TMD before pregnancy

If you already had TMJ pain prior to getting pregnant, it will most likely not go away even after giving birth. The reason is because whatever it was that caused it or is causing it, simply does not go away from just birthing your child.


Possible causes for TMJ pain:

  • Worn jaw joint

  • Worn disc in between the joint

  • Overused TMJ muscles

These issues are not related to pregnancy so they will persist and remain even after pregnancy. Our recommendation is to actually seek out a healthcare professional get your TMD treated properly so that you can get some real pain relief.


TMJ should get better during pregnancy

You may be surprised but patients with TMJ symptoms usually experience an improvement over the course of their pregnancy. This study showed that pregnant women actually experienced a decrease in TMJ pain because of elevated levels of the hormone relaxin.


That particular hormone gets released in order to make the joints become more "lax" which facilitates child birthing later on. Fortunately, it also affects the temporomandibular joint as well so it makes it become more lax and less tense.


A lot of the TMD symptoms are a result of the joint or the surrounding muscles becoming stiff. Since the hormone makes it become more lax, the symptoms do surprisingly improve!


Sometimes for patients who experience a lot of pain with their TMJ, we do prescribe a muscle relaxant to help alleviate it. That in effect serves the same purpose as the relaxin hormone, which just makes everything become more lax.


However, after you give birth and the hormone levels return down to normal, you'll most likely go back to what you were feeling prior to being pregnant. That may be a little bit unfortunate but that is how life is.


Will it ever go away?

There isn't a definitive answer as to when your TMD will go away. If your situation improves and you become less stressed, there is a good chance it'll go away.


But let's be honest, it is definitely much more stressful having kids than being single. Due to this reason, we are not as optimistic about your stress levels improving after giving birth.


Takeaway

That pain which you are experiencing with your TMJ may or may not go away after giving birth to your child. It all depends on if you developed it during the pregnancy or if you came into it with a pre-existing condition. If it was the former then it will most likely go away afterwards but if it is the latter then it probably won't change.


Regardless of what it is, you should still seek help from a healthcare professional to treat the condition. You don't want to live your whole life with it when there are ways that can improve the symptoms and improve the quality of your life.

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About the author: Dr David Chen, DDS

Hello, I'm Dr Chen and I'm an actively practicing dentist in Long Island City, NY. I graduated from Columbia University College of Dental Medicine in 2016 but prior to going to dental school I was already working in the dental field. It's been more than a decade since I first got to know dentistry and let me tell you, time flies by quickly. Since then I've developed a fondness for writing, which is how this all got started!

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Medical Disclaimer:

This blog is purely meant for information purposes and should not be used as medical advice. Each situation in your mouth is unique and complex. It is not possible to give advice nor diagnose any oral conditions based on text nor virtual consultations. The best thing to do is to go in person to see your dentist for an examination and consultation so that you can receive the best care possible.

The purpose of all of this oral health information is to encourage you to see your dentist and to inform you of what you may expect during your visit. Due to the unfortunate nature of dentistry, there isn't really any true home remedies that will get rid of dental problems. Roughly 99.99% of them require in-person intervention by a healthcare professional.

Hint: That is the reason why you can't eliminate seeing dentists in your life!

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