Temporomandibular joint disorder, known more commonly as TMJ, describes an imbalance the muscles of mastication (those muscles that move your jaw) and the temporomandibular joints which connect your jaw to your skull. According to the National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research, there are around 10 million Americans diagnosed with TMJ, and many more who remain undiagnosed. Despite being a fairly common disorder, effective treatments aren’t so common. For those with a serious case of TMJ, surgery is sometimes a final option, despite little research backing the effectiveness such a procedure. However, new research being done offers hope of new treatments on the horizon.

A woman looking out upon the horizon. Is she looking for the new TMJ treatments or just the view?

Growing Tissue Inside a Lab

Researchers at the University of California – Irvine are trying something that sounds straight out of science fiction: growing tissue to be implanted in a patient’s jaw. There is a cartilage disc between the mandible and the temporal bone that is subject to thinning and/or perforation. Historically, this is one of the main causes of TMJ. Back in the 1980s, researchers developed a spacer that was to fit between the joints, similar to those used on shoulders and hips. Made out of Teflon, the spacers broke into pieces and created a wealth of dangers for the patients. This time around, the material will be organic matter grown in a lab.

Tested in animals, preliminary research is looking promising. Eight weeks after the insertion of this bio-engineered disc, researchers observed complete functionality. Whereas those animals who were untreated, developed osteoarthritis in their joints. Although there are still many hurdles to complete, it would seem that there is hope for more effective TMJ treatments.

Are You Looking For TMJ Relief?

Do you regularly experience jaw pain when eating or talking? Does your jaw occasionally lock up? If you’re currently suffering from TMJ, you are probably seeking relief that will come as soon as possible. Unfortunately, as exciting as the prospect of regrowing tissue seems, the truth is that this TMJ treatment won’t be available to the general public for quite awhile. So in the meantime, what are your options?

Your Dentist Can Help

As challenging as it is to treat a condition like TMJ, Dr. Kendall and Dr. Johnson can help. Dr. Johnson began his extensive training in treating TMJ nearly twenty years ago with many of the pioneers in the field. Completing several advanced training programs at L.D. Pankey Institute, and others, he strives to continually educate himself of the best treatment options for his patients.

If you’ve been searching for a drug-free solution to your TMJ-related symptoms, then it’s time to schedule that appointment. There, you can go over your specific symptoms, and your dentist can recommend the best treatment available.

If you’re having TMJ problems, give us a call at (907) 349-0022 or contact us to let us at Excellence in Dentistry help today!