NIH Doubles Funding for TMJ Research

May 24, 2024 | TMJ/TMD

In 2020, the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine conducted a comprehensive study of temporomandibular joint disorder, also known as TMJ or TMD. This disorder causes pain in the face and jaw that can range from mild discomfort to disabling, with severe symptoms being more common in women. As a result of the TMJ study, the NIH has recently doubled the annual funding for TMJ research, a little-understood condition that affects as many as 33 million Americans.

Lack of Research Contributes to Ineffective Treatment Options for Temporomandibular Joint Disease

The National Institute of Health’s comprehensive TMJ study and an investigation by KFF Health News show that temporomandibular joint disorder has been under-researched. This lack of research has contributed to ineffective treatment options. Multiple experts believe one reason TMJ treatment options aren’t better is that temporomandibular joint disorders primarily affect women, and historically, their complaints were dismissed as trivial and straightforward; this meant researching TMJ wasn’t a priority.

NIH Recommends TMJ Patients Stay Away from Surgical Treatment Options

NIH’s comprehensive TMJ study has revealed a lack of proven TMJ treatments. Many standard treatment options for temporomandibular joint disorder are not backed by consistent results or compelling scientific evidence. The NIH warns TMJ patients that some standard treatments aren’t very effective or don’t work at all. Given the lack of proven, effective TMJ treatment options, the NIH recommends TMJ patients stay away from treatment options that will permanently change their teeth, bite, or jaw, such as surgery.

Comprehensive TMJ Study Will Bring Changes to the Future of TMJ Healthcare

The TMJ study conducted by the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine has made it clear that temporomandibular disorders (TMDs) are not only dental problems but are complex, multifaceted problems that need a multidimensional approach to care. The committee has recommended that efforts be made to increase professional education and awareness so dental and medical students can become better-informed practitioners.

Expert TMJ Care from Compassionate and Experienced Temporomandibular Joint Disorder Specialists

Even though TMJ research has not yet provided a solution, people who have temporomandibular joint disorder still have options for treating their TMJ. Patients can treat their TMD by visiting with a trained, compassionate, experienced TMJ specialist, like those at Sleep Better Columbus, who can help with treatment options that align specifically with each patient’s needs and will take an approach that focuses on minimizing TMJ/TMD pain without surgery.

Multifaceted TMJ Care and Treatment from Skilled TMJ Specialists

The underlying cause of your temporomandibular joint disorder (TMJ) and the severity of your pain are two factors that are considered when determining the TMJ treatment that is right for you. Sleep Better Columbus offers a multifaceted approach to TMJ care and treatment and always recommends noninvasive options that should be tried first. Your TMJ specialist will complete a thorough evaluation and make recommendations based on your individual needs. Noninvasive treatment includes home remedies, medications, self-managed care, and lifestyle changes.

Some TMJ treatment options that might be recommended include:

  • over-the-counter or prescription pain medications
  • massage techniques for the facial area you can do at home
  • sedatives and muscle relaxers
  • physical therapy to help with stretching and strengthening jaw muscles
  • implementing mindfulness or relaxation techniques to reduce stress and relax neck and jaw muscles
  • using oral appliances like bite guards or mouthguards
  • eating softer foods
  • Watch out for sticky or chewy foods that require a lot of chewing or grinding your teeth.

Caring TMJ Specialists at Sleep Better Columbus Can Help You with TMJ/TMD Pain

If you want to learn more about treating your jaw pain, have questions about your TMJ, or have a temporomandibular joint disorder, please call Mark Levy, DDS with Sleep Better Columbus, at (614) 777-7350 for a consultation and complete evaluation. Our experienced staff can give you all the information you need to make the best decision for your treatment needs. Our compassionate TMJ specialists will help you create a TMJ treatment plan that aligns with your needs and wants.

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