Facing a competitive work environment, a good deal of guilty for not having enough time to spend with the kids and in constant anxiety due to general violence, women are suffering from craniofacial pain.
The psychological and physical reasons are still being studied, but it is a fact, backed by worldwide researches, that 90% of the women between 30 and 45 years of age suffer from craniofacial pain. A lot of them believe it is a chronic headache or migraine, but, as soon as they start treatment, they realize that the real cause is bruxism.
“The temporomandibular pains that irradiate all around the head, jaw, neck, ears and even the back, are a very common complain among the patients. These pains even limit actions like speaking, biting and masticating. After some minutes of talk, the real reason of the physical suffering surfaces: depression, stress, anxiety and fear” says orthodontist Ivan Valle, from the Oralface Institute.
Valle says that, while men tend to somatize less their problems and, when they do, usually present gastrointestinal disturbs or heart diseases, women tend to concentrate their pains in the head area. “Imagine if one person spends 24 hours a day working the leg muscle. In a short period of time could barely walk. Now picture a person that forces all the time, awake or sleeping, the jaw muscles, occluding and gritting the teeth, in a short period of time the pain becomes unbearable and the patient has the impression that everything is in pain”.
The orthodontist says that the majority of the cases refers to women with double duty jobs – facing the challenges of the professional job and the one of managing the house, husband and children – feeling anxious due to the urban violence and worried about every family member´s problems. On top of that, feeling guilty for having less time to dedicate to their children as they would like.
“Some local factors also contribute to increased pain such as respiratory alterations, habits such as nail biting and chewing gum, and also teeth wrong placement which results in a modified muscular posture”, the specialist says.
In Ivan Valle´s opinion, Brazil still is a “toddler” in this type of diagnosis and treatment. “It is not rare to receive patients that tried for a number of years solve the problem with other specialties unsuccessfully. It is important not follow the self-medication path with analgesic and anti-inflammatory drugs because this way, besides not solving the problem, can cause other problems and loss of efficacy”.
Valle mentions that those patients with temporomandibular dysfunction must receive an integrated treatment. Teeth placement as well as emotional alterations must have the same importance in the assessment. Doctors, physiotherapists, psychologists, speech therapists and other professionals must be prepared to diagnose and address these patients to the adequate treatment.
In the United States of America, the National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research indicates that 10.8 Million people have pain in the temporomandibular articulation.