Researchers at Clemson University in South Carolina have partnered with some at Florida State University in an attempt to better understand TMJ‘s early phases so that patients can get treatment before permanent damage sets in. According to Clemson University professor Hai Yao, who is the principal researcher on the project, “Attempts to surgically reconstruct the TMJ have resulted in severe disabilities . . . . early diagnosis and management are critical.” Yao is a professor of craniofacial biology. He is partnering with a statistics professor at FSU.

woman with a cracked tooth after eating a meal at home

Such Data Has Never before Been Collected from Living Humans

The researchers are hoping to find a new method that might lead to early detection of TMJ by using metabolic byproducts of joint degradation.

They are attempting to integrate multiscale data that looks at many aspects related to TMJ, including:

  • Joint imaging
  • Kinematics
  • Cartilage tissue mechanics
  • Cell metabolism
  • Nutrient concentration
  • Metabolic rates

The goal is to show on both a macroscopic and microscopic scale the impact of the intense loading of the human bite on tissues so that they can identify signs of stress in tissues even before there is any sensible failure of tissues.

Early Management Is Crucial

Even before the new diagnostic tool is ready, it’s important for people to recognize that early management of TMJ is crucial to controlling symptoms and reducing the potential for future damage. TMJ is a progressive condition, and while it may start as an occasional minor nuisance, symptoms can become more severe with time and the effects of TMJ can spread throughout the body.

If you suffer from jaw pain, headaches, facial pain, tooth pain without decay, ringing in the ears, or other TMJ symptoms, it’s important to be evaluated to allow us to protect your jaw joint from further damage. And if you rely heavily on painkiller medication on a regular basis for control of your symptoms, we may be able to give you a drug-free alternative.

To learn more about TMJ diagnosis and treatment, please contact Smile Columbia Dentistry or call (803) 781-9090 to talk to one of our Columbia, SC dentists today.