There are some people who will tell you that temporomandibular joint disorder (TMJ) is an imaginary condition. Others will say that neuromuscular dentists aren’t able to treat it, that oral splints, for example, aren’t an effective treatment. Now, though, a new study has used brain scans to demonstrate the effectiveness of an oral splint on reducing jaw pain associated with TMJ.
Seeing Pain in the Brain
The new study used functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) to look at the status of patients’ brains to see the impact of TMJ on their brains and how that impact could be diminished using an oral splint.
The study looked at 14 people with mild TMJ (or, as the researchers termed it, craniomandibular disorder (CMD)). Each subject had their brain imaged before treatment, then after two weeks of treatment with an oral splint. The tension in their jaw muscles was measured before and after treatment as well. They were also asked about their pain before and after treatment.
The Effect of Relief
Treatment with an oral splint resulted in significant pain reduction and decreased muscle tension in the jaw muscles.
Oral splint therapy also significantly impacted the brain scans of test subjects. When subjects had been using the oral splint for two weeks, they had significant reductions in activity in the right anterior insula and the cerebellar motor regions.
Researchers associated these decreases with the freeing up of the body’s resources because the anterior insula is a part of the brain charged with monitoring the body’s internal state. They also noted that increased symmetry of jaw movement was associated with decreased need for brain resources during normal jaw movement.
The Effectiveness of TMJ Therapy
This study shows again that TMJ therapy, including oral splint and other forms of treatment aimed at repositioning the jaw, can lead to significant, measurable improvement of your condition.
To learn how TMJ treatment may be able to help your condition, please contact Dental Excellence of Blue Bell in Philadelphia today.