Implant Research

An estimated 10 million Americans suffer from symptoms of TMJ-related disorders, according to the National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research (NIDCR). Diseases and disorders of the temporomandibular joint (TMJ) are a complex and poorly understood set of conditions, manifested by pain in the area of the jaw and associated muscles. It limits a person's ability to make normal jaw movements.

An interdisciplinary research team from UAB, led by physics professor Yogesh Vohra, PhD, has received a four-year, $1.3 million grant from the NIDCR, a division of the National Institutes of Health (NIH), to develop new, more functional TMJ implants that will promote integration with surrounding bone and tissue.

The UAB research team will employ nanotechnology approaches to improve integration of TMJ implants. The new implants will have a core of metal that gradually transitions to a smooth, nanostructured ceramic surface on the outside. In addition, the screws that attach the implant to the bone will be coated with a nanostructured hydroxyapatite coating to help existing bone better adhere to the implant.

The interdisciplinary team working on the project which includes Patrick J. Louis, DDS, MD, from the Department of Oral and Maxillofacial Surgery, brings together researchers from the UAB Schools of Dentistry, Medicine, Natural Science and Mathematics, Engineering, and the Joint Health Sciences.