One Pregnancy Side Effect That Can Make TMJ Pain Worse


Stress during pregnancy is a trigger for TMJ pain. But did you know there’s another pregnancy side effect that can cause TMJ pain? Edema, more commonly known as swelling, occurs during pregnancy and can cause discomfort depending on the extent of the swelling and where it occurs.

The body produces roughly 50% more fluids during pregnancy, which causes swelling for many women. It’s most common in the feet, ankles and hands, but can also affect the neck and facial regions. When edema occurs in these areas it can potentially put pressure on the jaw that leads to TMJ pain and discomfort.

Virtually every woman experiences some degree of edema while pregnant. However, it’s most common after week 20 and can continue to increase as the pregnancy progresses. As the stomach and uterus expand it puts pressure on the surrounding veins, especially the veins that carry blood from the legs to the heart. This pressure, along with chemical changes in the blood, can shift fluids into tissue and ultimately cause swelling.

Swelling that occurs in the face can increase the pressure around the temporomandibular joint, making movement more uncomfortable. The pressure can also cause headaches that affect TMJ as well.

Swelling isn’t uncommon, unless it comes on suddenly. If that occurs you should call your doctor immediately, since it could be a sign of a serious problem such as pregnancy-induced high blood pressure.

Tips for Controlling Swelling During Pregnancy

In most cases edema isn’t serious, though it can be uncomfortable and inconvenient. The best thing you can do to avoid TMJ pain is to control the swelling. Here are a few tips that may help:

  • Stay active – The more you can get on your feet and move around the better. This will help improve the circulation so that fluids don’t collect in tissue.
  • Soak in a cool pool or tub – The cool water can temporarily relieve some of the swelling.
  • Drink lots of water – Increasing the fluid in your body may sound counterproductive, but staying hydrated is extremely important for your health.
  • Avoid wearing constrictive clothes and accessories.
  • Use cold compresses – A cold compress can reduce swelling around the jaw.
  • Keep cool – When it’s hot outside edema tends to be worse. Try to avoid spending long periods outdoors during the summer.

Mothers-to-be that are experiencing TMJ pain should make an appointment with a dentist that is experienced in treating temporomandibular disorders. Expectant mothers in Houston rely on the knowledgeable staff at MedCenter TMJ to help identify the underlying causes of TMD and create a personalized treatment plan so there is one less thing to worry about during pregnancy. Call us today to schedule an appointment with one of our dentists.

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