The temporomandibular joint (TMJ) disorder affects millions of people across the United States, and the range of symptoms it causes makes it difficult to treat. Research to understand the origins and impact of TMJ has accelerated over the past decade, and these latest findings are shaping the development of effective treatments and leading to potential benefits for East Texas residents.
New Understandings of TMJ
Recent research into TMJ has begun to offer new insights into the disorder and uncover some of the main risk factors. Unlike many other health problems, TMJ cannot be defined by discrete genetic mutations. Instead, researchers have discovered that a wide range of factors can exacerbate the development of TMJ disorder. For instance, certain women appear to be more sensitive to estrogen, which can make them more susceptible to TMJ. In addition, physical injuries of the jaw and gum chewing have both been shown to increase the risk of developing TMJ.
Moreover, the evidence is mounting to suggest that psychological factors may also play a major role in the development of TMJ. For instance, depression, anxiety, and stress have all been linked to increased TMJ symptoms. In large taste studies, it was found that stressed, anxious people with overactive nervous systems tend to clench their teeth and have a higher risk of developing TMJ. Combined, these results are now creating a clearer understanding of what triggers the disorder and how to create more effective treatments.
How TMJ Research is Transforming Diagnosis
The lack of a precise definition for TMJ makes it difficult to diagnose the disorder. Instead, healthcare professionals must use a range of physical exams and symptom-elicitation questionnaires to determine if a patient is suffering from TMJ. However, the latest TMJ research is beginning to suggest new methods for diagnosing the disorder and expanding our understanding of its underlying mechanisms.
For example, one study was able to develop a saliva-based test for detecting even the subtlest signs of TMJ. Saliva is full of biological molecules that can provide insights into the state of an individual’s health and disorder patterns. By developing a method for identifying these specific patterns, it is now possible to more accurately diagnose TMJ and better pinpoint the source of the disorder.
In addition, the research into the psychological factors underlying TMJ is providing healthcare professionals with potentially powerful tools for diagnosing the disorder. Along with the physical symptoms of TMJ, healthcare professionals now have comprehensive psychological assessments for understanding the patient’s disorder patterns.
Potential Treatments for TMJ Patients in East Texas
Thanks to the abundance of new research into TMJ, the field of treatments for the disorder is rapidly expanding. The lack of a definitive understanding of the biological origins of TMJ make the disorder particularly difficult to treat, and many of the current treatments have a low success rate. However, the latest research is now pointing to potential new treatment options for East Texans suffering from TMJ.
For example, antianxiety medications like Prostap and benzodiazepines have been shown to be effective in managing the symptoms of TMJ. As it becomes clearer how psychological factors contribute to the development of TMJ, these medications may become more popular as a way to manage the disorder.
Moreover, research into the ways that endogenous cannabinoids impact the disorder is providing new hope for a real cure. It has been discovered that stimulation of the endocannabinoid system can help to decrease the inflammation in the jaw, which is one of the central symptoms of TMJ. With the development of cannabinoid-based topical treatments, there may soon be more effective and non-invasive solutions for those suffering from TMJ.
The range and diversity of contributing factors to TMJ make it one of the most difficult to accurately diagnose and treat. However, the latest research is finally providing us with a clearer understanding of the disorder and its underlying mechanisms. This new knowledge is now paving the way for more accurate and effective diagnosis methods and expanding the range of treatment options for East Texans suffering from TMJ.