UMDNJ Receives $3.1 Million NIH Award
for Temporomandibular Disorders Study
- Researchers from UMDNJ and NYU Partner to Conduct
Sleep and Genetic Study -
NEWARK — A researcher from the University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey was awarded $3.1 million to conduct a comprehensive sleep study on the causes of temporomandibular disorders, which are characterized by jaw and facial pain that often radiates to the neck and shoulders. Signs and symptoms of TMDs, which tend to impact adults in the U.S. who are usually between 20 and 40, most commonly affect women.
TMDs are a diverse set of conditions affecting the jaw joint and the chewing muscles. Dr. Karen Raphael, principal investigator of the five-year study and a faculty member at both the UMDNJ-New Jersey Medical School and the UMDNJ-New Jersey Dental School, received this award from the NIH’s National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research. Dr. Raphael is conducting this study with a team of researchers from New York University’s College of Dentistry and School of Medicine.
In this multiple-phase study, each person will participate in a two-night sleep study, a stress reactivity test, and an experimental test to determine how the central nervous system processes painful stimuli. An additional phase will involve using saliva to observe genetic factors that may determine who is at greater risk for a TMD. Researchers will simultaneously examine a multitude of possible causes of TMD pain by assessing all these factors in a single group of patients.
Researchers will compare and contrast the characteristics of facial pain among 180 women. The study will include 120 women who have TMD and a control group of 60. TMD patients generally have pain and tenderness in the jaw area and chewing muscles.
“Unfortunately, TMD is a stigmatizing condition. Although many people believe it is the result of poor coping skills or a response to stress, this is not the case. We want to investigate other physiological factors that could contribute to TMDs,” said Dr. Raphael, an associate professor and director of research in the Department of Psychiatry at the UMDNJ-New Jersey Medical School and associate professor in the Department of Diagnostic Sciences at the UMDNJ-New Jersey Dental School. “This partnership between UMDNJ and NYU enables us to recruit patients and evaluate them at New York University’s College of Dentistry Bluestone center for Clinical Research and New York University’s School of Medicine’s sleep laboratory, before the genetic testing takes place at UMDNJ.”
According to Dr. Ana Krieger, an assistant professor of Medicine and director of the Sleep Disorders Center at NYU, researchers in the sleep laboratory will use a variety of methods such as videotaping patients, electromyography - an instrument that measures muscle activity - to better understand the potential role of bruxism in TMD s.
“We will investigate the popular belief that bruxism - or teeth grinding and clenching, especially while sleeping - is a major cause of TMD, and that pain may also result as an abnormal stress response,” said Dr. David Sirois, an associate professor of Oral and Maxillofacial Pathology, Radiology & Medicine and associate dean for Graduate Studies, at the NYU College of Dentistry.
For more information about enrolling in the study, call Dr. Karen Raphael, at UMDNJ, 973-972-5462.
The University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey (UMDNJ) is the nation ’s largest free-standing public health sciences university with more than 5,700 students attending the state's three medical schools, its only dental school, a graduate school of biomedical sciences, a school of health related professions, a school of nursing and a school of public health on five campuses. Annually, there are more than two million patient visits at UMDNJ facilities and faculty practices at campuses in Newark, New Brunswick/Piscataway, Scotch Plains, Camden and Stratford. UMDNJ operates University Hospital, a Level I Trauma Center in Newark, and University Behavioral HealthCare, a statewide mental health and addiction services network.