Statement by NIDCR Acting Director on the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine Report on Temporomandibular Joint Disorders

I am pleased to announce the release of the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine (NASEM) report, Temporomandibular Disorders: Priorities for Research and Care. As underscored by the comprehensive report, temporomandibular joint disorders (TMJDs) are a diverse and still poorly understood set of complex, painful conditions affecting the jaw muscles and tissues, temporomandibular joints, and associated nerves. Clearly, there is much more to be understood, and these conditions continue to confound medical and dental health care providers and researchers.

In 2018, the National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research (NIDCR) and the National Institutes of Health (NIH) Office of the Director commissioned a study by the National Academies of Science to address the current state of knowledge about TMJD research, provider education and training, safety and efficacy of clinical treatments, and TMJD-associated burden and costs. The convened ad hoc committee of 18 experts performed a thoughtful, yet broad, review, with input from internal and external stakeholders. The report makes it clear that although current and past research has resulted in some advances in our knowledge of TMJDs, significant gaps remain in our understanding of the biological mechanisms underlying TMJDs. The report includes eleven recommendations, four of which align with NIH’s mission and are focused on building and sustaining a multidisciplinary TMJD research community:

  • Create and Sustain a National Collaborative Research Consortium for Temporomandibular Disorders 
  • Strengthen Basic Research and Translational Efforts
  • Strengthen Population-Based Research on the Public Health Burden of Temporomandibular Disorders 
  • Bolster Clinical Research Efforts to Build the Evidence Base for Patient-Centered Care and Public Health Interventions for Temporomandibular Disorders 

In anticipation of the report’s release, in January 2020 we announced the development of a TMJD Multi-Council Working Group to be made up of advisory council members from NIDCR and other NIH Institutes and Centers with expertise relevant to TMJD research. This working group will review the report and its recommendations and work to develop strategies that NIDCR and NIH can use to better support research efforts to generate a strong knowledge base and advance TMJD research and care.

NIDCR is also committed to working with other federal partners, patient groups, and professional organizations to address the report findings that are beyond the research mission of the NIH.

We thank NASEM for this careful report on the state of the science of TMJDs. With the help of all our stakeholders, NIDCR looks forward to using this report as a roadmap to strengthen our understanding of TMJDs, address the current evidence gaps, and advance treatment options for the millions of people and their families affected by these conditions.

Lawrence A. Tabak, D.D.S., Ph.D.
Acting Director
National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research
Principal Deputy Director National Institutes of Health

Last Reviewed
March 2020