The TMJ Association

For over 30 years, The TMJ Association (TMJA) has fulfilled its mission through a variety of programs and activities. We are pleased to share some of our major milestones and achievements below.

  • Every year, TMJA advocates for federal funding for TMJ research. This is accomplished through report language that is put into government agency appropriations bills. Report language informs the National Institutes of Health and other government agencies, that elected officials are aware of the research needs of TMJ patients, and therefore recommend these needs. These directives are expected to have a powerful influence on the decisions made by government agencies about which research should be prioritized and funded.
  • TMJA was the catalyst in obtaining support for the prestigious National Academy of Medicine to conduct its first-ever study on TMJ disorders. The resulting March 2020 report accurately reflects the dismal state of TMJ disorders and provides recommendations on how to “fix this field.” The TMJA is committed to see that this report not sit on the proverbial shelf; that we must ensure that the recommendations are carried out, because when they are, the lives of TMJ patients will certainly be improved.
  • The TMJ Patient-Led RoundTable founded in 2016, was the first-of-its-kind, public-private collaboration and has continued to this day. The RoundTable was initiated by the need to find out why some TMJ patients improve with implant surgery, while others worsen. Since its inception it has evolved into a comprehensive study of all aspects of TMJ and how these aspects interact to affect patient outcomes. The goal is to establish a scientifically valid roadmap that can reliably predict treatment outcomes for individual patients.

2015: TMJ disorders rarely exist alone – it is common for patients to also experience a number of other chronic pain conditions, which are called Chronic Overlapping Pain Conditions (COPCs). To address this gap, the TMJA established the Chronic Pain Research Alliance (CPRA) Initiative. Its mission is to promote high-quality research on chronic overlapping pain conditions, translate research findings into information for patients and educational training programs for clinicians, and drive the development of safe and effective treatments for these conditions

2010 – 2012: The TMJ Association joined organizational leaders of the CFIDS Association of America (now named the Solve ME/CFS Initiative), Endometriosis Association, and the National Vulvodynia Association to form the Overlapping Conditions Alliance (now the Chronic Pain Research Alliance) and conducted the Campaign to End Chronic Pain in Women. The campaign, which was kicked off with a standing-room-only event on Capitol Hill, released its first white paper, Chronic Pain in Women: Neglect, Dismissal and Discrimination, and also launched a website featuring a newly developed video, Through the Maze. The campaign raised awareness of chronic pain conditions that disproportionately impact women, as well as exposed the neglect, dismissal and discrimination in the medical/dental profession faced by women suffering from chronic pain.

2006-2007: TMJA’s advocacy triggered the US Government Accountability Office to investigate the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approval process of TMJ total joint devices. This investigation shed light on problems associated with TMJ implants, leading to more aggressive action by Congress and the FDA to hold manufacturers accountable and to improve the safety and quality of TMJ implants. Two of the major findings were: 1) FDA management indicated that the clinical data was not expected to be of high quality because the sponsor was a small manufacturer. 2) Either good engineering data or good clinical data was acceptable to approve a device – not necessarily both. Both were later found to be inadequate.

2000-2016: TMJA, in co-sponsorship of the National Institutes of Health (NIH), convened eight international scientific meetings, the recommendations of which continue to guide the direction and focus of NIH-sponsored TMJ research. The meetings have brought experts from other areas of research together with scientists who have focused on TMJ to exchange ideas and build an innovative research agenda. The goal of these meetings was to build a solid scientific basis for TMJ research and define future directions of research.

2000: TMJA’s advocacy led to the congressionally mandated Study of the Per-Patient Cost and Efficacy of Treatment for Temporomandibular Joint Disorders (Part 1, Part 2, Part 3 & Part 4). The report confirmed the findings of the 1996 NIH Technology Assessment Conference that few randomized clinical trials or other types of rigorous studies exist for determining the effectiveness of treatments for TMJ disorders.

1996: TMJA’s efforts resulted in the NIH sponsored Technology Assessment Conference, “Management of Temporomandibular Disorders,which was pivotal in revealing the neglected state of TMJ research and treatment.

1992: Following the FDA Class I Recall of the Vitek implant (Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, Part 4 & Part 5), the TMJA was successful in bringing attention to the harm caused to patients by TMJ implants. TMJA’s effort to bring attention to the harm caused to patients by TMJ implants initiated a Congressional hearing entitled, “Are the FDA and NIH Ignoring the Dangers of TMJ Implants?”

In the 1970s, Vitek Inc., created Teflon sheeting using DuPont’s Teflon FEP film, laminated to a porous composite material made from polytetrafluoroethylene (PTFE). This material was implanted into a patient’s TMJ fossa or condyle. These implants led to many devastating health effects including death and suffering in others.

1989: The TMJ Association incorporates as a 501(c) nonprofit organization per the state of Wisconsin.

1986: TMJA co-founders held their first TMJ support group meeting in Milwaukee, WI.