Exercise or splints for temporomandibular disorders


This randomised controlled trial looked at the efficacy of an occlusal splint or joint mobilization self-exercise for confirmed anterior disc displacement without reduction (ADDwoR).

Fifty-two individuals with ADDwoR were randomised to a splint or a joint mobilization self-exercise treatment group.  Four outcome variables were evaluated:

  1. maximum mouth opening range without pain
  2. maximum mouth opening range with pain
  3. current maximum daily pain intensity
  4. limitation of daily functions.

The researchers found significant improvement in all variables at eight weeks with the mouth opening range increasing more in the exercise group than in the splint group.

They concluded:

Joint mobilization self exercise is an effective treatment option for improving jaw function and reducing pain and limitations of daily activities in patients with ADDwoR.

Haketa T, Kino K, Sugisaki M, Takaoka M, Ohta T. Randomized clinical trial of treatment for TMJ disc displacement. J Dent Res. 2010 Nov;89(11):1259-63.

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Derek Richards

Derek Richards is a specialist in dental public health, Director of the Centre for Evidence-Based Dentistry and Specialist Advisor to the Scottish Dental Clinical Effectiveness Programme (SDCEP) Development Team. A former editor of the Evidence-Based Dentistry Journal and chief blogger for the Dental Elf website until December 2023. Derek has been involved with a wide range of evidence-based initiatives both nationally and internationally since 1994. Derek retired from the NHS in 2019 remaining as a part-time senior lecturer at Dundee Dental School until the end of 2023.

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