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Research in Regeneration for TMJ Disorders

Current Status


Disorders of the temporomandibular joint (TMJ) span a complex spectrum of etiologies, afflictions, and symptoms. It is crucial to tailor treatment to the specific indications of the patient, and for a select group of patients there may be a promising future alternative treatment with regenerative medicine. By understanding the structure of the primary components of the TMJ with the disc and mandibular condyle, biomedical engineers have made major strides over the last 20 years with developing new technologies based on biomaterials and/or cell therapies, with examples including preclinical models such as the minipig. Our team has been working toward a custom-made device comparable to those on the market today, but 3D printed from resorbable biomaterials. Outcomes in a pilot study with this new technology in a goat model have been encouraging, but have identified key challenges and next steps. In the future, engineering efforts for the disc and for the mandibular condyle share some similar challenges, yet remain distinct from each other, although perhaps these parallel strategies may be combined in the future.

Learning Objectives

  • To understand TMJ disorder patient indications and contraindications for potential treatments based on regenerative medicine.
  • To distinguish key differences in the structure and function of TMJ cartilages from hyaline cartilage.
  • To learn how 3D printing may be leveraged as a tool to create a potential future ‘plug and play’ device for mandibular condyle regeneration.
  • To identify select leading examples of TMJ disc and mandibular condyle regeneration strategies in the field.

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