Temporomandibular joint (TMJ) disorder is a complex, incompletely understood problem. It affects as many as 35 million Americans, and can be caused by arthritis, autoimmune diseases, infection, injury, or insertion of a breathing tube before surgery. In some cases, the cause of TMJ Pain remains a mystery. (1)
TMJ Pain Treatment
Treatments for TMJ disorders range from eating a diet of softer foods to surgical options. Both the TMJ Association and the National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research recommend those suffering from TMJ disorders begin with conservative, reversible courses of treatment. For many people, the pain due to TMJ disorders will go away on its own. Unfortunately, many people who suffer from TMJ disorders experience prolonged, debilitating pain, and consequently will require more drastic courses of treatment.
Research on TMJ Pain
Scientists continue to research TMJ disorders. From 2006 to 2013, researchers led by UNC’s William Maixner carried out a study known as OPPERA (Orofacial Pain: Prospective Evaluation and Risk Assessment). They found that sleep abnormalities, history of smoking, and preexisting pain disorders were the highest predictors of initial onset TMJ disorders. Furthermore, they also found causes of TMJ disorders were to be broader than previously thought. In the words of Maxiner, “We now must recognize that TMD is not a localized orofacial pain condition. It is truly a multi-systems disorder characterized by a variety of comorbidities.” (2) Since 2013, the OPPERA program has received additional funding and expanded to four universities. Fortunately for those who suffer from TMJ Disorders, our understanding of its causes and potential treatments continues to improve as a result of ongoing scientific efforts.
In conclusion, if you suffer from TMJ pain, it’s important to know that you have options. Dr. Abeyta takes a holistic approach to the treatment of TMJ disorders. After screening for a wide range of causes of TMJ disorders, she can recommend what course of treatment is best for you. Options range from Botox and Acupuncture to Occlusal Guard and Equilibration Therapies.
1 – http://www.tmj.org/Page/34/17
2 – http://www.painresearchforum.org/news/34996-oppera-sings-risk-factors-jaw-painrevealed-large-prospective-study