Genetic variability contributes to chronic TMJD. Researchers found that chronic TMJD patients had alterations in several genes, including some known to influence stress response, psychological well-being, and inflammation. These findings may help to explain the origins of TMJD and provide new targets for drugs to treat chronic pain.
Several clinical findings also were reported. TMJD patients frequently experienced many more chronic pain conditions, such as lower back pain, headaches, and fibromyalgia. Evidence of abnormal jaw function associated with teeth grinding and clenching was also observed. Future investigations will attempt to unravel whether grinding and clenching is a cause of consequence of the condition.
"These initial results from the OPPERA Study mark an important preliminary first step in providing a clearer, more definitive accounting of the risk factors associated with TMJD and related conditions," said Martha Somerman, D.D.S, Ph.D., director of NIDCR. "The OPPERA Study has a lot more data in the pipeline. The next few years will be extremely interesting and should greatly improve the diagnosis of TMJD."
TMJD is an umbrella term for a group of conditions that affect the area in and around the temporomandibular joint, or TMJ. These two large, ball-and-socket joints connect the jaw to the skull on both sides of the head. Common TMJD symptoms include: persistent pain in the jaw muscles, restricted jaw movement, jaw locking, and abnormal popping and clicking of the joint.
It is not known how many people have TMJD. But the main symptoms pain and restricted jaw movement occur in 5-15 percent of Americans and more frequently affect women. Although some cases can be to linked physical trauma, in most cases the cause is unknown.
One reason that treatment can
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NIH/National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research