Researchers have developed the first evidence-based diagnostic criteria for temporomandibular disorders (TMD). Commonly known as TMJ, it refers to a group of painful jaw conditions that affect many Americans.

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The new criteria includes an improved screening tool to help researchers and health professionals better distinguish the most common forms of TMD for a more accurate diagnosis. Prior to the evidence-based diagnostic criteria, the diagnosis of TMD was based on a consensus of expert opinion and a shared clinical perspective, as reflected in the 1992 Research Diagnostic Criteria for TMD (RDC/TMD).

The new diagnostic criteria called “DC/TMD” starts with a refined Axis I, the physical assessment. It begins with a patient questionnaire designed to detect pain-related TMD. If TMD is detected, the protocol moves on to new diagnostic criteria to help clinicians differentiate among the common subtypes.

Axis II, the psychosocial assessment, evaluates patients to assess pain location, pain intensity, pain-related disability, psychological distress, degree of jaw dysfunction, and presence of oral habits (eg, grinding teeth) that may contribute.

The new DC/TMD criteria are published in the winter issue of the Journal of Oral and Facial Pain and Headache.

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