The Orofacial Pain: Prospective Evaluation and Risk Assessment (OPPERA) study is the long-range comprehensive study of 3,200 volunteers 18 to 44 years old who were free of TMD at the outset but some of whom developed TMD in the course of the years of the study. There is also a subset of patients who had already been diagnosed with TMD who are being followed. Now we are excited to report that the first papers analyzing the wealth of data that has accumulated have just been published as a supplement to the November issue of the Journal of Pain.
The key findings are:
The papers nail down in no uncertain terms the complexity of TM Disorders and what factors may make some people more susceptible. The findings will go far to include TMJ patients in the medical disciplines and eliminate the stigma patients experience when they seek care from them and it will be a wake-up call to the dental community to re-evaluate the ethics and scientific bases of current practices.
Dr. William Maixner, the Director of the Center for Neurosensory Disorders at the University of North Carolina, and a member of TMJA’s Scientific Advisory Board, is the Principal Investigator of this multimillion dollar study which was funded by the National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research (NIDCR).
NIDCR grant administrator, Dr. John Kusiak stated in a National Institutes of Health radio clip regarding the OPPERA findings "There are, we believe anyway, a fair number of subjects that not only have just TMJD but also other chronic pain conditions like fibromylgia, chronic fatigue syndrome, irritable bowel syndrome, and it would be really important to try to identify the specific risk factors for those individuals as well." Dr. Maixner stated in the NIH radio clip there is no single risk factor for TMJD. "The notion that we are dealing with just the head and neck oral-facial condition I think is being laid to rest...it is becoming clearer and clearer through research that TMJD should be looked at with a global view...This is really a condition associated with a constellation of conditions that impact almost every region of the body in one way or another."
Dr. Samuel Dworkin, Guest Editor of the Journal of Pain special issue, has provide comments and a summary of the 8 papers for TMJ News Bites and we appreciate his help.
As an organization that has long advocated for scientific research to understand Temporomandibular Disorders in all their complexity and develop treatments that work and don’t harm patients, we congratulate Dr. Maixner and his colleagues for conducting this elegant study. We are grateful also to the National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research for supporting the study in every way. On behalf of the millions of TMJ patients, thank you!