TMJ Dysfunction (Temporomandibular joint dysfunction) is commonly combined with jaw pain, difficulty chewing and sometimes clicking and locking of the jaw joint. TMJ OA is “a degenerative disease, characterized by progressive cartilage degradation, subchondral bone remodeling, synovitis, and chronic pain” (Dixin Cui, et al, 2017).
Most research suggests that TMJ OA is a very serious concern especially in older female demographics.
“According to the American Academy of Orofacial Pain, TMJ Osteoarthritis is categorized into primary and secondary. Primary TMJ osteoarthritis is characterized by the absence of any distinct local or systemic factor. Secondary TMJ osteoarthritis is however associated with a previous traumatic event or disease.” (Kalladka, et al 2013).
These conditions can cause long term suffering and discomfort to the patients of TMJ and treatments are still not as efficacious as they are for other maxillofacial procedures.
TMJ OA Research
Today we look at this article on TMJ Regeneration:
Dixin Cui, Hongyu Li, Xin Xu, et al., “Mesenchymal Stem Cells for Cartilage Regeneration of TMJ Osteoarthritis,” Stem Cells International, vol. 2017, Article ID 5979741, 11 pages, 2017. https://doi.org/10.1155/2017/5979741.
The article provides a novel look at the use of Mesenchymal Stem Cells in the regeneration of TMJ OA. While TMJ OA is a specific problem within TMJ perhaps a cure in TMJ OA can have some benefit to sufferers of TMJ dysfunction.
Stem Cells have been widely publicised to have remarkable (if occasionally unpredictable) healing properties. The research is still very much in its infancy but the findings are interesting.
One of the key findings of the article was ” MSCs combined with appropriate scaffolds can form cartilaginous or even osseous compartments to repair damaged tissue and impaired function of TMJ” (Dixin Cui, et al 2017).
They conclude that the findings are positive (“formation of cartilaginous compartment or even stratified cartilaginous and osseous compartments has been accomplished in TMJ OA animal models.”) and further research should be done into the area “like in OA treatment.” (Dixin Cui, et al, 2017).
The research is still new but certainly seems to be worth exploring.
TMJ Dysfunction – Conservative Treatments
Other studies still see hope in more conservative treatment techniques;
Treatment of advanced stage TMJ osteoarthritis can be successfully achieved by reversible and conservative non-surgical techniques. The first treatment option for the treatment of TMJ osteoarthritis should be conservative therapy owing to the non-progressive nature of the condition in the advanced stages. A conservative approach has a proven effective with the least morbidity to the patient. Irreversible oral rehabilitation should be avoided in active stages of the disease.” (Kalladka, et al, 2013).
Finding a way to repair tissue and function of TMJ is a massive step forward in the treatment of TMJ dysfunction. As a specialist Oral & Maxillofacial surgeon Dr Kemal Akbiyik is always looking for ways to treat TMJ Dysfunction as best he can. Research like this, while still early, may provide new procedures for treating TMJ Dysfunction.