Bringing Dental and Medical Students Together to Learn About TMD

Last year we told you about organizing a TMD educational session with medical and dental students so they could become better informed about the jaw joint and associated muscles and tissues. This was significant because it made clear that TMDs are not strictly a dental problem, but are complex and multi-faceted.

On January 30, 2023, second-year dental students from Marquette University Dental School in Milwaukee joined first-year medical students from the Medical College of Wisconsin (MCW) in the first combined TMD educational session that was held at MCW. The session was designed as an interprofessional activity to increase understanding of TMD and the need for collaboration in providing clinical care.

Michelle Reardon, a board member of the TMJA, provided the students with a parent’s perspective and a timeline of her daughter’s TMD journey. (see video below).

TMJA was represented at this event by Laurie Friedrich, Deanne Clare, Terrie Cowley and Allen Cowley and the following are our observations:

  • Both the medical and dental students got along very well and enjoyed their interactions with each other. It was a very collegial and interactive group of students. The post-session student evaluations were very strong which bodes well for future planning and further cross pollination exchanges between the two professions.  
  • The students greatly appreciated the presence of the TMJA representatives. They interacted with us and showed great interest and asked many questions. They were quite sensitive to the plight of TMD patients. We feel this should be a part of these sessions going forward and a time for these informal interactions should be incorporated into the schedule. 
  • Organizationally, the session went smoothly although the need for some fine tuning was recognized by the course directors. In general, everything seemed rushed. More time may be required to make this a meaningful interaction and educational experience.
  • The anatomical aspects of the curriculum were adequate and first year medical students respected the second-year dental students’ knowledge of the anatomy.
  • The major weakness was the clinical content of TMJ disorders. For example, information from the OPPERA program and NASEM report was not included in the presentation. Instead, outdated information was mostly presented. Unfortunately, this is the major obstacle that will be faced by interprofessional educational efforts in this field.

After the session, we were contacted by a medical student experiencing TMJ issues who participated in this event. We asked for her perspective on the interprofessional session. Click here to read her summary.

Overall, the meeting was a very important first step! It is our hope that this collaboration will continue to develop into a framework for future interprofessional learning.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *