An assistant professor at the Tipton, Georgia-based Abraham Baldwin Agricultural College recently won a $2,700 grant to study temporomandibular joint disorder, or TMJ disorder for short. The assistant professor, Leslie Pryor-McIntosh, won the Gail Dillard Faculty Enrichment Fund award for her research paper, “You Are What You Eat: The Effects of Chewing on Bone Health in the Temporomandibular Joint.”
The grant was awarded to a total of six professors at the university, with Pryor-McIntosh’s paper being the only one focused on temporomandibular joint disorder, a condition that affects over 10 million Americans, the majority of whom are women in their childbearing years.
Pryor-McIntosh has won the Gail Dillard Faculty Enrichment award before for a project related to her current TMJ disorder research.
Dr. Alexandra George is a neuromuscular dentist practicing in Wexford, Pennsylvania. She says that awarding grants such as these to research temporomandibular joint disorder is a significant benefit to TMJ disorder sufferers – even if the research is inconclusive.
“Every time someone brings temporomandibular joint disorder to light in the news, it creates awareness,” says George. “Awareness is key because many people could be experiencing TMJ disorder symptoms and not realize they have it. That jaw clicking, that ear ringing, the headaches? These are common symptoms that many people don’t think twice about.”
While little is available to read about Pryor-McIntosh’s findings, George is hopeful that the research and publicity the award has garnered will help someone who may never have realized they had a problem – or a solution.
“Many people know they have TMJ disorder and don’t realize it’s treatable,” George says. “But we have neuromuscular orthodontics for that. We can help realign the jaw and make some of those annoying and painful side effects stop.”