Temporomandibular disorders: current status of research education, policies, and its impact on clinicians in the United States of America

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Quintessence International


Temporomandibular disorders (TMDs) encompass a number of different musculoskeletal disorders often accompanied by pain and dysfunction. Most TMDs are acute, but can become chronic leading to disability and quality of life issues. There is wide variation in treatment of TMDs, including both conservative/reversible therapies as well as invasive/irreversible treatments, which present difficulties for clinicians, patients, and third-party payers as to what constitutes appropriate care. Data sources: A recent report by the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine highlighted a number of deficiencies, most notably in the education of TMDs within United States of America dental schools at both the predoctoral and postdoctoral (dental) levels as well as addressing the historic inconsistencies in both diagnosis and treatment. New areas for research and interprofessional collaboration should assist in the understanding of TMDs, and updated clinical practice guidelines should help reduce variation in the delivery of evidence-based care. Recently, the American Dental Association recognized orofacial pain as a specialty, which should increase the level and availability of expertise in treating these issues. Summary: Based on the current best evidence, this report is an attempt to alert the profession to discontinue irreversible and invasive therapies for the vast majority of TMDs and recognize that the majority of these disorders are amenable to conservative, reversible interventions.

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