Chronic pain, metal jaws, and futile treatments

TMJ, or temporomandibular joint disorders, affect millions of Americans, with severe symptoms more common in women. Despite close to a century of dental care for TMJ patients, the disorders are poorly understood, under-researched, and ineffectively treated. Common treatments like splints and orthodontics lack compelling scientific evidence and can worsen symptoms. Patients often undergo multiple surgeries with diminishing returns, including total jaw replacements with synthetic implants that have a low success rate. Suggestions for improvement include better education, more research funding, and avoiding unnecessary treatments that permanently change the teeth, bite, or jaw. Ultimately, many TMJ patients suffer ongoing pain and regret much of the care they received.

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