Temporomandibular joint disorder, also known as TMJ, is an umbrella term which describes a set of symptoms and dysfunctions affecting the temporomandibular joints. Rather than a singular disease like the flu (which, admittedly, also has many different strains), TMJ is a symptom complex which can be caused by an array of factors. Some are well-established while others are still under debate. Because of the numerous potential causes and wide variety of symptoms experienced by patients, TMJ can be incredibly frustrating. Some patients and their doctors may not recognize the symptoms after several months–even years–of pain.
A new study conducted by the University of California, Irvine, explores a new treatment for TMJ they’re hoping will change the landscape, and it seems like something out of a science fiction novel.
Growing Cartilage to Treat TMJ
Teaming with multiple universities, including the University of Texas School of Dentistry in Houston, researchers have now developed a method for using tissue from the rib of one animal, separating cartilage cells, and then using those cells to create replacement cartilage that could be implanted to replace damaged tissue. The first test subject was a miniature pig, and when the implant was complete, it alleviated defects originating from TMJ. According to researchers working on the project, “This is the first time that cogent healing has been shown in the TMJ area and, I dare say, the first time anyone has shown successful biomechanical healing in any joint.” Although the treatment was developed with TMJ in mind, it holds potential to be applied to other joint conditions that affect knees, shoulders, and hips.
Is This Treatment Currently Available?
Unfortunately, this treatment is in an early trial period. It could be years before it’s used on human subjects, and even longer before it becomes publicly available. If you’ve been suffering from TMJ symptoms, such as, jaw pain, reduced jaw mobility, or even frequent headaches, there are several treatments available to you right now. If you’ve been suffering for a long time from TMJ symptoms, scheduling a consultation with your local dentist could be the first step to finally taking control of your symptoms, and getting the relief you deserve.
Getting Treatment Now
Suffering from TMJ symptoms can be frustrating, but you can get help now. Visiting a neuromuscular dentist is the first step to finding relief. Standard treatment generally begins with a TENS unit, which relaxes the muscles in your jaw and allows your dentist to take more accurate bite measurements. After reviewing all relevant data, your dentist can offer a full mouth rehabilitation plan. This may include an orthotic dental appliance, similar to a mouthguard, which can help to reposition your jaw during sleep so that you can begin to heal. This mouthpiece can also help to protect your teeth from grinding during the night.
If you are in the Westchester County, New York area and believe you may be suffering from symptoms caused by TMJ, please contact experienced neuromuscular dentist Dr. George Sepiashvili for an initial TMJ consultation.