After President Obama submits his budget to Congress, the work of Representatives and Senators begins. It is at this time that we tell our elected officials what YOU, TMJ patients, need to have addressed.
The past two months have been busy ones outside our office. On February 23rd we visited the offices of Wisconsin Senators Tammy Baldwin, Ron Johnson, and Representative James Sensenbrenner while attending the American Association for Dental Research and Friends of the National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research Advocacy Day event on Capitol Hill. On March 8th we visited nine Senate and House Offices. During our Hill meetings with staff and Senators we discussed:
- Research on TMD pain: As always, our number one request is for research. Since 2006, the National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research has supported OPPERA, the Orofacial Pain Prospective Evaluation and Risk Assessment project, which has been the leading research program not only in deciphering the intricacies of TMD pain, but also that of a number of conditions that often coexist with TMD. We want this kind of research to expand.
- Pain research: If patients are not able to receive opioids for severe and chronic pain, what are their options for safe and effective alternatives? Over-the-counter medications may not "touch" the pain and can have severe consequences on the liver, kidneys, heart, stomach, and esophagus. Other complementary or behavioral therapies take time that a person in pain who is employed may not have. Nor will the costs necessarily be covered by insurance. We need to intensify research aimed at finding safe and effective alternatives to opioids to relieve the chronic pain of millions of Americans.
We also visited with Food and Drug Administration staff to discuss the development of the first TMJ Implant Round Table.
It is clear that research on all aspects of Temporomandibular Disorders and our overlapping pain conditions are needed. Please send that message to your own Senators and Congress person! They need to hear from you now.