Psychosocial stress on temporomandibular disorders in the adolescent population




Clinical Professor of Oral Medicine, Director of Oral Medicine Residency Program

Project Summary

My project’s goal is to investigate the effect of psychosocial stress on TMD in the adolescent population (10-19). We aim to prove our hypothesis that there is a significant association between psychosocial stress and TMD among this population. We also aim to identify what type of psychosocial stress has high impact. Our ultimate goal of this study is to understand the complexity of TMD in adolescents and develop algorithms for TMD diagnosis and management for these patients.

This study will be carried out by way of using a TMD evaluation form. All adolescent patients visiting the oral medicine clinics (Perelman Center of Advanced Medicine and Penn Medicine at Radnor) who are experiencing jaw pain, headache and/or earache are evaluated utilizing the same TMD evaluation form.  Completion of this form as in standard practice will be part of an initial patient assessment. The research involves the review of patient health records along with the initial assessment. Identifiers include age, gender, and race, and the information in the TMD evaluation form, which will be used in statistical analysis to suggest associations between TMD and a specific factor asked about in the form.

Through this research experience, I have learned what research is actually about, and what it takes to go through with it. Before this program, I had a very vague definition of research. I thought it was something unattainable. However, I have learned that you cannot say something is impossible unless you try it. All it took was asking questions until I understood everything I had to know. The mentor I received through this program was incredibly welcoming and was there to teach me. She was very accessible, and was always available to answer any questions I had. This experience was very valuable in that I learned how to work independently in research, and I learned how to ask the right questions in order advance my knowledge in this specific area that I was “clueless” in.