Adding TMD to the Dental School Curriculum

Uncategorized Mar 08, 2023

In this article, we will discuss the importance of addressing joint problems in dental school education. Our focus is on the temporomandibular joint, which is the joint that connects the jaw to the skull. The article is based on a podcast by Tony Urbanek, who has extensive experience in the field of dentistry. Tony is passionate about educating young dentists and believes that dental schools should do more to prepare them to treat joint problems.

The National Academies of Science, Engineering, and Medicine Recommendations

Two years ago, the National Academies of Science, Engineering, and Medicine brought together scientists from different disciplines to address the issue of joint problems in dentistry. They made recommendations for the solution, as the poor results of previous treatments and confusion about treatment needed to be addressed. The prevalence of joint problems is increasing, possibly due to stress in our society. The consensus report from the National Academies, "Priorities for Research and Care," highlights the need for dental school education to address several different joint problems.

Tony Urbanek's Proposal for Educating Young Dentists

Tony proposes a method for educating newly minted dentists in our dental school system. He believes that if young dentists are not trained to address joint problems properly, there will be little progress in solving this issue. Tony's proposal is based on the idea of directing toward a simpler resolution. In his opinion, when people are confused and do not have an answer to a problem, the answer is usually directed to the most complicated type of resolution.

Basic Sciences vs. Clinic

Tony vividly recalls the distinction between the basic sciences and clinic in dental school. In the first two years, basic sciences are taught, with little clinical instruction. It is primarily focused on anatomy, physiology, histology, biochemistry, neurology, and neuroanatomy. After the first two years, students get access to the clinics, where they begin to learn about the mechanics of dentistry. Tony believes that young dentists should be directed away from being mechanics of the mouth and directed more toward being physicians of the mouth.

The Importance of Curriculum Standards

Tony emphasizes the importance of curriculum standards for teaching temporomandibular joint disorders in dental schools. Without standards, young dentists will not be properly prepared to address joint problems. Tony agrees that the treatment surgically to that point had been far from ideal, and curriculum standards need to be put in place to ensure that young dentists are adequately trained in treating joint problems.

The prevalence of joint problems is increasing, and dental schools need to address this issue. The National Academies of Science, Engineering, and Medicine have made recommendations for solving this problem, and Tony Urbanek has proposed a method for educating young dentists. He believes that curriculum standards for teaching temporomandibular joint disorders are essential to prepare young dentists to treat joint problems properly.

Tony Urbanek proposes directing young dentists away from being mechanics of the mouth and toward being physicians of the mouth. He believes that this approach will help young dentists address joint problems properly.

The Importance of Incorporating Temporomandibular Joint Education in Dental School Curriculum

As a young dentist, the importance of a strong foundation in the basic sciences cannot be overstated. However, with the increasing prevalence of temporomandibular joint (TMJ) disorders in the population, it is becoming essential for dental schools to incorporate TMJ education into their curriculums. In this article, we will explore the reasons for this and suggest some practical ways in which it can be achieved.

The Current Dental School Curriculum

Dental schools in the US generally have a four-year program, which is divided into basic science courses, dental laboratory courses, and clinical rotations. However, it is worth noting that the amount of emphasis placed on each of these areas can vary greatly between schools.

The Need for TMJ Education

While basic science courses provide the foundation for dental education, they often fall short in addressing the intricacies of TMJ disorders. Understanding the anatomy, physiology, and histology of the TMJ is essential in diagnosing and treating patients with these disorders. Therefore, incorporating more TMJ-specific education would better equip dentists to diagnose and treat TMJ-related conditions.

The Role of Basic Sciences in TMJ Education

One practical approach to incorporating TMJ education is to include it in the basic science curriculum. For example, in the gross anatomy course, instructors can focus on the muscles, joints, and nerves that affect the maxillofacial region. By understanding the specific nerves and muscles that affect the TMJ, dentists will be better equipped to diagnose and treat TMJ disorders.
In the histology course, instructors can emphasize the growth and development of bone and cartilage tissues, which are essential components of the TMJ. Additionally, instructors can also focus on cell biology, which can help dentists understand the effects of inflammation on the TMJ.

In the physiology course, instructors can place more emphasis on the physiology of nerve conduction and muscle contraction, with a focus on the muscles of mastication and their impact on the TMJ. Similarly, in the neuroanatomy and neurology courses, instructors can place more emphasis on the head and neck region, with a focus on the physiology, biochemistry, and neurology of the TMJ.

Incorporating TMJ Education in Dental Lab Courses

In addition to the basic sciences, dental lab courses can also be used to integrate TMJ education. For example, while working with dental materials, students can be taught about different materials that can be used to treat TMJ disorders. Furthermore, dental laboratory courses can be used to teach students about the mechanics of the TMJ and how different treatments can affect the joint. The dental school curriculum provides a solid foundation for dental education. However, with the increasing prevalence of TMJ disorders, it is essential that dental schools incorporate TMJ education into their curriculums. By focusing on the anatomy, physiology, and histology of the TMJ, dentists will be better equipped to diagnose and treat TMJ-related conditions. By incorporating TMJ education into basic science and dental lab courses, dental schools can ensure that future dentists have a well-rounded education that includes a deep understanding of the TMJ.

Improving the Education of Temporomandibular Joint Disorder

The importance of improving the education of temporomandibular joint disorder (TMD) in dental schools. He believes that integrating various modalities into the treatment of TMD is crucial, rather than teaching only one professor's point of view. Urbanek asserts that many dental schools have only one professor with a particular point of view on TMD, which may not be the correct approach. Unfortunately, there is often no opportunity for students to learn about other modalities or to understand how each works on a particular patient. This, Urbanek argues, is not good education and is not successful in stimulating young doctors.

Teaching students to use their common sense in determining what is viable and what is not is an excellent place to start. It is essential to encourage students to participate in their learning experience rather than memorizing information and regurgitating it on an examination. In Urbanek's opinion, this approach does not work and is not a good educational process.

Proper educational process that teaches young dentists about TMD. He believes that this process should involve teaching students about various modalities and how each one works on a particular patient. It is crucial to stimulate young doctors and to give them a better understanding of TMD, and Urbanek argues that there is full agreement on this issue.

The treatment and experience with TMD TMJ problems are almost nonexistent and definitely need to be improved. He invites comments and suggestions on this topic, emphasizing that we need to solve this problem by teaching our younger doctors to address it properly.

By encouraging listeners to visit his website,, to learn more about his robotic device and protocol and how to apply it to patients and their practice. He encourages everyone to get involved and help solve this problem.

The biggest compliment he could receive is a a story about a patient who had seen 14 doctors in the Dallas, Texas area before coming to see him in Nashville.

She had watched every episode of TMD Demystified and remarked that Urbanek's approach made sense.

He concludes by inviting listeners to contact him at and promising to discuss this topic further in the next episode of TMD Demystified.


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