We recently announced that Denver TMJ dentist Dr. Kevin Berry earned certifications in orofacial pain. This included a Master of Science (MS) in Orofacial Pain and Oral Medicine from the Ostrow School of Dentistry of the University of Southern California (USC).

While working on his MS, Dr. Berry had the opportunity to work with other leading experts in temporomandibular joint disorders. Combining imagery of patients seeking treatment for temporomandibular joint complaints with the analytical and statistical tools of research scientists, Dr. Berry co-authored a paper that passed the rigors of peer review to be published in Cranio: The Journal of Craniomandibular & Sleep Practice.

This research shows further evidence that Denver dentist Dr. Berry and the TMJ Therapy & Sleep Center of Colorado remain at the forefront of knowledge and practice in the treatment of temporomandibular joint disorders.

Understanding Changes to the Joint

Before we start talking about Dr. Berry’s paper, we want to clarify that we’ll be using different words to talk about the research than we normally use. We normally talk about how temporomandibular joint disorders can be called either TMJ or TMD (and sometimes TMJD), then use TMJ because that’s what most people are used to. However, Dr. Berry’s paper focuses a lot on the temporomandibular joint as well as temporomandibular disorders. So, in this case, it makes sense to use TMJ for the joint and TMD for the disorder.

In Denver dentist Dr. Berry’s paper, he worked with another clinical dentist to evaluate images of patients’ TMJs. The clinicians looked at CBCT images from 99 patients from age 20 to 80, with a total of 198 joints. CBCT is short for cone beam computed tomography. It uses a series of x-rays to get a precise view of the body that allows for an understanding of structures in 3D. CBCT lets doctors and dentists look at bones and joints in precise detail.

For this paper, the dentists evaluated the joint structures to see if the changes in physical structure could be linked to either patients’ symptoms or their eventual diagnosis.

Patient Characteristics, Complaints, and Diagnoses

The 99 patients are mostly female (78%) with an average age of 35. Most of the patients (55%) reported jaw pain and/or headache as their chief complaint. However, other complaints included a limited range of motion (21%), noises in the TMJ (17%), and lockjaw (7%).

This pattern is similar to the characteristics of patients Dr. Berry sees in his Denver TMJ dentistry practice.

Based on the patients’ complaints, symptoms, and more, doctors diagnosed them with a dislocated cushioning disc in the joint (36%), muscle and tissue pain (21%), osteoarthritis (15%), and other conditions–eight in total.

Were Joint Changes Linked to Disorders?

Could dentists link the structure of the joints with patients’ complaints, characteristics, and diagnoses? In some cases, yes.

However, it’s important to note that nearly 97% of joints these dentists looked at had “pathological remodeling.” That means that the bones were changing shape in unhealthy ways. Less than 3% had healthy changes, and only 1% were normal. In other words, almost every patient who had TMD complaints had objectively verifiable changes in their jaw joints. This in itself is an important insight, given how many TMD patients aren’t taken seriously by their doctors or dentists in Denver.

The doctors determined a statistically significant difference between the joints of people with joint-related diagnoses and those with muscle-related diagnoses. In addition, there were discernible differences in patients from all eight different diagnoses.

Scientific TMD Treatment in Denver

If you experience TMD symptoms such as jaw pain, headaches, restricted jaw movement, and jaw-related noises, the odds are very good that you have objectively verifiable effects on your jaw joints. A scientific diagnosis can give us a good idea of where to start with TMD treatment.

Denver TMD dentist Dr. Kevin Berry understands the complexities of oral myofascial pain. He can help you get an accurate diagnosis of your condition as a starting point for effective TMD treatment.

To learn how we can help you, please call (303) 691-0267 or email the TMJ Therapy and Sleep Center of Colorado, located near the intersection of I-25 and Colorado Blvd in Denver.