The Changing Field of Temporomandibular Disorders: What Dentists Need to Know

February 1, 2009

Diagnosis and treatment of temporomandibular disorders (TMDs) have been within the domain of dentistry for many decades. However, the field of TMDs and other causes of orofacial pain is undergoing a radical change, primarily because of an explosion of knowledge about pain management in general. As a result, etiological theories about TMDs are evolving toward a biopsychosocial medical model from the traditional dental framework. Conservative and reversible management approaches (especially of chronic pain conditions) are becoming the norm rather than the exception in treating TMD patients, and already certain biological and psychosocial factors are known to affect the outcomes. Current research in this field is focused on genetic and environmental susceptibility factors as well as individual adaptive potentials. To continue as the main providers of care for TMD patients, dentists will need to recognize and appreciate these important changes.

 

• Gary D. Klasser, DMD •

• Charles S. Greene, DDS •

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