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Researchers at the University of Maryland Dental School have begun a study to identify a possible cure for a condition that causes jaw pain.
The seven-year study has approximately 3,400 participants and will use them to closely examine temporomandibular joint and muscle disorders, which most people call TMJ.
Approximately 2 percent of the U.S. population suffers from TMJ, which includes symptoms such as limited mobility and function in their jaw, and various joint noises, such as a click or a pop, whenever the mouth is opened.
Though the symptoms for most people disappear on their own with little or no treatment, dental health professionals know little as to what causes the disorder.
Dr Joel Greenspan is one of the principle investigators in the $17 million Orofacial Pain: Prospective Evaluation and Risk Assessment (OPPERA) study and said there have been few studies addressing the cause of TMJ.
"The main purpose of our OPPERA study is to identify the precursors in a prospective way, thus allowing us to more formally determine cause and effect, rather than just associations," Greenspan said.
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