Increasing Scientific Research and Awareness
The TMJ Association is fighting every day to change the entire landscape for people with TMJ disorders in many different ways including:
- Advocating for increased research funding to understand the causes and contributing factors of TMJ disorders
- Promoting the development of safe and effective treatments
- Championing an entirely new “whole person” treatment model for TMJ disorders.
Here are some of our recent efforts to advocate on your behalf:
Senate Report Language
Each year since 1993, TMJA’s advocacy efforts have resulted in congressional report language which sends a strong message to the National Institutes of Health (NIH), that elected officials are concerned about the research needs of TMJ patients and encourages the NIH to fund research on TMJ.
Report language should have a powerful influence on the decisions made by government agencies. The NIH is the primary US federal agency that conducts and supports medical research. In recent years, Congress allocated over $41 billion in tax-payer dollars to the NIH for research. The NIH is comprised of 27 Institutes and Centers.
Report language on TMJ disorders that was included in the Fiscal Year 2021 Senate Labor Health and Human Services report is below:
NATIONAL INSTITUTE OF DENTAL AND CRANIOFACIAL RESEARCH
Temporomandibular Disorders.—The Committee is encouraged by the work of the National Academy of Medicine [NAM] report on TMD and supports efforts to guide the direction of new research and funding related to TMD to improve patient care. The Committee encourages NIH to collaborate with other governmental agencies, as well as public and private stakeholders. Further, the Committee notes that the NAM report states that action is urgently needed to improve care for individuals with TMD, and that multiple basic scientific and clinical disciplines are needed to advance research to improve patient care. Given the number of individuals suffering from TMD, the severity of some of the disorders, and the substantial public health burden of TMD, there is a compelling opportunity for NIH and other biomedical research institutions to continue supporting TMD research to spark new discoveries, and the Committee supports efforts to ensure that TMD research is incorporated into NIH-wide initiatives. To continue to build on advances in coordinated research and treatment, the Committee requests NIDCR provide an update on NIH-wide activities on TMD research in its fiscal year 2022 CJ.
TMJ Patient-Led RoundTable
Acting as the catalyst to advance the needs of patients with TMJ implants, TMJA developed the TMJ Patient-led RoundTable (RT) – a patient-centered, public-private collaboration among the federal government, scientists, clinicians, dentists, advocates, manufacturers and others.
The RT was originally developed to understand why some TMJ patients improve with implant surgery, while others worsen. As an ongoing project, it has evolved into a comprehensive initiative to understand all aspects of TMJ disorders including risk factors, disease mechanisms, and clinical treatment practices – as well as how these interact to affect patient outcomes for all treatments. The overall goal is to establish a scientifically valid roadmap that can reliably predict treatment outcomes for individual patients.
The RT is the first patient-led project of the Medical Device Epidemiology Network (MDEpiNet), a public-private partnership developed to bring real world data and patient experiences together with a broad array of experts to conduct studies aimed at improving outcomes for TMJ implant patients worldwide.
The RT Working Groups have developed the following reports:
- White Paper – The TMJ Patient-Led RoundTable: A History and Summary of Work
- TMD Research Plan
- TMD and Nutrition Summary
- TMD Treatments: Review of Meta-Analyses & Systematic Review
- Update: Dental Education (Working Group 3)
- Summary TMJ Components and Repair
A unique aspect of the RT is that it is patient-centered. As such, we invite you – TMJ patients – to get involved.
National Academy of Medicine Study
As a result of TMJA’s tireless advocacy efforts, in 2019, the prestigious National Academy of Medicine (NAM) undertook its first study of temporomandibular disorders. The two-year effort resulted in a landmark report, published in March 2020, entitled Temporomandibular Disorders: From Research Discoveries to Clinical Treatment. It analyzed every aspect of TMJ – research, education and training, diagnosis and assessment, clinical management and treatment, comorbidities, treatment efficacy, models of care, insurance practices, clinical translation, and other issues. With implementation of the NAM study recommendations, our vision for the future of TMJ patient care can actually become a reality – a health treatment system that is informed by scientific evidence and addresses the complex physiology of individual patients with TMJ and other medical conditions.
Presentations and Letters
In addition to these efforts, the TMJA also advocates through other mechanisms, such as written testimony to elected officials and government agencies, organizational letters and presentations at Congressional, federal agency and/or medical-scientific meetings. Some of our recent efforts include:
- Letter to the Commission on Dental Accreditation (American Dental Association) regarding inclusion of information on Temporomandibular Disorders in dental education, May 31, 2020.
- Presentation by TMJA President, Terrie Cowley at the 10th Annual Medical Device Epidemiology Network meeting, October 23, 2019.
- Presentation by TMJA President, Terrie Cowley, at the National Academy of Medicine Meeting on TMD: From Research Discoveries to Clinical Treatment, January 29, 2019.
- Presentation by Terrie Cowley providing the Patients and Patient Groups Perspective at the Medical Devices Patient Engagement in Real World Evidence: Lessons Learned and Best Practices, September 12, 2018.
- Presentation by Terrie Cowley on the Overview of TMD and History of TMJ Replacement at the US Food and Drug Administration Grand Rounds, May 18, 2017.
- Webinar presentation by Terrie Cowley on Patient-led Translational Project at the MDEpiNet semi-annual meeting, May 16, 2017.