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TMJ RoundTable Update - June 2017

From the time of the June 16, 2016 meeting, until last month, progress has been slow. However, over the past couple of months we have the following accomplishments to share with you.

Pain Drawings: An Important Tool for Health Care Practitioners

Last year we shared with you a study in which investigators found patients with more severe and chronic TMD are likely to experience other persistent pain conditions in other parts of the body, seemingly unrelated to problems in the jaw or face. Yet patients often do not mention these "overlapping" or "comorbid" pain conditions when they see a dentist or health care provider.

Primary Temporomandibular Disorders and Comorbid Conditions

The aim of this study is to evaluate the distribution of the most common comorbid conditions associated with chronic temporomandibular disorders, and the pharmacological agents which play an integral role in the overall management of temporomandibular joint disorders. Abstract: INTROD

Overdiagnosis and Unnecessary Therapy

Many dental practitioners continue to use radiographic or magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) findings in the temporomandibular joint (TMJ) as the sole means of establishing that there is a pathology present that requires treatment.

TMD Self-Management Programs

Self-management (SM) programs in temporomandibular disease (TMD) are a core component of pain management of TMD throughout its course and are often given to patients as a first essential step after diagnosis.


  • Nov 3, 2016

For over 20 years The TMJ Association's advocacy efforts have resulted in Congressional report language, which communicates to federal agencies, such as the National Institutes of Health (NIH), that our elected officials are concerned about the plight of TMD patients and initiatives needed to improve their lives. This directive has a powerful influence on the decisions made by the government agencies. We have established personal contacts with staff and elected officials and garnered their support by reporting regularly on TMD research, as well as letting them know what we, the patients, need. The U.S. Congress remains vigilant to the needs of the TMD patients as well as to the progress the NIH has and continues to make on their behalf.

For these devastating conditions we want the best science this country has to offer and we are fortunate to have the support of members of the Senate Labor, Health and Human Services, Education and Related Services Appropriations Subcommittee, responsible for funding the National Institutes of Health (NIH). This support deserves our thanks; take a moment to send a note of appreciation to the committee members.

Report Language included in the FY2016 Appropriations Bills follows:

Temporomandibular Disorders [TMD] 

The Committee appreciates the collaboration of National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases and National Institute of Biomedical Imaging and Bioengineering with National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research in organizing the May 2013 Roundtable on The Temporomandibular Joint in Health and Disease. A panel of experts from a variety of fields, many outside of dentistry, reviewed the state of the science on the jaw and associated muscles and developed a list of research recommendations. The Committee encourages NIH and its roundtable co-sponsors to work collaboratively to implement the recommendations and recruit the intellectual and scientific talent necessary to resolve the outstanding issues of diagnosis and treatment.    

Chronic Overlapping Pain Conditions

The Committee continues to support strongly an expanded and coordinated trans-NIH research effort on chronic overlapping pain conditions that solely or predominantly affect women. The Committee urges NIH to establish research standards for chronic overlapping pain conditions. This includes the development of a case definition, research diagnostic criteria, and a data repository. The Committee requests that NIH provide an update in the fiscal year 2016 CJ on the common data elements and outcome measures being developed. Further, the Committee commends the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases for its ongoing initiative, ''Multi-disciplinary Approach to the Study of Chronic Pelvic Pain [MAPP]'' Research Network, and encourages NIH to expand the network to include additional chronic overlapping pain conditions in the second phase of the initiative.  

What is the National Institutes of Health (NIH)? Why is it Important to TMJ Patients?

The NIH, one of 10 federal agencies under the direction of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, is the primary federal agency that conducts and supports medical research. With the support of the American people, the NIH annually invests over $30 billion in medical research. The NIH is comprised of 27 Institutes and Centers. It provides leadership and financial support to researchers in every state, and throughout the world. Helping to lead the way toward important medical discoveries that improve people’s health and save lives, NIH scientists investigate ways to prevent disease, work to determine causes, and establish treatments, and even cures for common and rare diseases. One of those 27 components is the National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research (NIDCR), which supports the bulk of research on TMD. Now that scientific understanding has uncovered the neurological and other complexities of TMD, an increasing number of agencies of the NIH are recognizing that they have a significant role in solving the puzzle of TMD by also providing funding for integral research programs.