Temporomandibular Disorders Core Curriculum for Predoctoral Dental Education: Recommendations from the American Academy of Orofacial Pain

Document Type


Publication Date

Fall 1-1-2021

Publication Title

Journal of Oral and Facial Pain and Headache


Temporomandibular disorders (TMDs), a common cause of orofacial pain, are defined as “a set of diseases and disorders that are related to alterations in the structure, function, or physiology of the masticatory system and that may be associated with other systemic and comorbid medical conditions.”1 Orofacial structures have close associations with functions of mastication, communication, vision, and hearing, and they form the basis for appearance, self-esteem, and personal expression. As a result, pain and dysfunction in the orofacial region can deeply affect an individual and may lead to chronic pain, addiction, and disability. The 2020 National Academies of Science, Engineering, and Medicine (NASEM) report on TMDs states that they are one of the most common chronic pain conditions.2 In addition, other orofacial pain conditions, pain in other parts of the body, psychologic conditions, and sleep-related issues commonly coexist with TMDs and affect their evaluation and management. The connection between TMDs and systemic health requires a change in the disease model from a dental-based biomechanical model to a whole-person biopsychosocial model to allow mechanism-based evaluation, management, and prevention.

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