The more we work together to get the word out about TMJ disorders the more people will understand that it’s not just a matter of a clicking and a popping joint, but much more. In turn, that will bring pressure for increased research funding, increased education of all health care providers and increased understanding of TMJ by your friends, employers and loved ones.
For over 20 years The TMJ Association's advocacy efforts have resulted in congressional report language, in which funding committees communicate to federal agencies, such as the National Institutes of Health (NIH), that our elected officials are concerned about the plight of TMD patients and propose initiatives needed to improve their health care and lives. These directives have a powerful influence on the decisions made by the government agencies, in particular, the individual components of the NIH. We have established personal contacts with congressional staff and elected representatives and garnered their support by reporting regularly on the state of TMD research and letting them know what we, the patients, need. It is gratifying to report that Congress responds to the needs of the TMD patients and tracks the progress the NIH has made and continues to make on their behalf.
For these devastating conditions we want the best science this country has to offer and we are fortunate to have the support of members of the Senate Labor, Health and Human Services, Education and Related Services Appropriations Subcommittee, responsible for funding the National Institutes of Health (NIH). This support deserves our thanks; take a moment to send a note of appreciation to the committee members.
Report Language appearing in the FY2019 Appropriations Bills:
Temporomandibular Disorders [NIDCR].—The Committee is concerned that over 36,000,000 people, primarily women in their childbearing years, are affected physically, financially, and emotionally by TMD. The Committee is aware that TMD are primarily a multisystem disorder with overlapping conditions influenced by multiple biological and environmental factors rather than solely an orofacial pain condition. Therefore, the Committee urges NIDCR to support multidisciplinary research and attract scientists across other disciplines to this research. At the same time, the Committee is encouraged by the scientific meetings between NIDCR, several Institutes and Centers as well as Temporomandibular Joint [TMJ] patient groups on an integrated systems approach of precision medicine related to cellular-molecular-genetic-epigenetic mechanisms related to diagnosis and treatment of TMD and its comorbid conditions. The Committee requests an update on initiatives that resulted from the recommendations that came forth from these meetings. Further, it applauds NIDCR’s involvement in the TMJ Patient RoundTable to advance collaboration to work toward the common end of providing safe and effective treatments that improve patient’s quality of life. The Committee encourages continued collaboration with governmental agencies and other stakeholders in the project.
Chronic Overlapping Pain Conditions [OD].—The Committee is concerned with the lack of progress in advancing a comprehensive initiative on Chronic Overlapping Pain Conditions, especially in light of recent findings from major studies funded by the agency demonstrating the significant prevalence and cost of Chronic Overlapping Pain Conditions, as well as the associated disability and detrimental health and quality of life outcomes for those with these debilitating disorders. The Committee strongly encourages the Director to continue to assess the state of science on Chronic Overlapping Pain Conditions and use the findings to continue to advance the scientific understanding of Chronic Overlapping Pain Conditions, as well as the development and discovery of safe and effective treatments
Temporomandibular Disorders [OD].—The Committee understands that NIH-funded research has demonstrated that TMD are primarily a multisystem disorder with overlapping conditions influenced by multiple biological and environmental factors rather than solely an orofacial pain condition. However, diagnosis and care of patients have not changed to reflect this major paradigm shift, with many patients continuing to receive treatments solely focused on teeth and jaws. Moreover, the medical community lacks edu- 124 cation regarding the complexity and systemic aspects of TMD as well as its many comorbid medical conditions. Patients are treated by a multitude of practitioners across numerous disciplines with treatments that have the potential to cause harm. The Committee is encouraged that NIH, led by NIDCR and in coordination with OD is leading an effort to provide to the Committee recommendations for a plan to most effectively study the state of TMD science, TMD education, examine the safety and efficacy of current clinical treatments of TMD, the burden and costs associated with TMD, develop policies related to the future scientific and clinical management of TMD patients. The Committee directs NIH to provide an update on development of such plan no later than 180 days after enactment.
The NIH, one of 10 federal agencies under the direction of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, is the primary federal agency that conducts and supports medical research. With the support of the American people, the NIH annually invests over $30 billion in medical research. The NIH is comprised of 27 Institutes and Centers. It provides leadership and financial support to researchers in every state, and throughout the world. Helping to lead the way toward important medical discoveries that improve people's health and save lives, NIH scientists investigate ways to prevent disease, work to determine causes, and establish treatments, and even cures for common and rare diseases. One of those 27 components is the National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research (NIDCR), which supports the bulk of research on TMD. Now that scientific understanding has uncovered the neurological and other complexities of Temporomandibular Disorders (TMD), an increasing number of agencies of the NIH are recognizing that they have a significant role in solving the puzzle of TMD by also providing funding for integral research programs.