The FDA recently cleared TMJ NextGeneration for treatment of TMJ symptoms. What makes this TMJ treatment different is that it goes in your ear, attempting to irritate you in such a way that it causes you to stop aggravating your temporomandibular joint.

How the TMJ NextGeneration Works

There isn’t much to TMJ NextGeneration: it’s a small clear tube with a couple of protuberances on one end designed to help it stay in the ear. Once inserted into the ear, it supposedly gives a little more support to the ear canal as well as the jaw joints and muscles of the temporomandibular joint.

But its primary function is that it’s slightly larger than your ear canal when you shut your jaw. This supposedly irritates you and reminds you when you’re performing para-functional activities absentmindedly, such as stress clenching of the teeth–that can adversely affect your jaw joint. Supposedly, this will protect both your ear canal and your temporomandibular joint.

Does the TMJ NextGeneration Actually Work?

This is the big question, and it’s one we don’t necessarily have a good answer for yet. The device has been cleared by the FDA, not approved. This is a meaningful distinction. When a device is FDA-approved, it’s undergone pretty rigorous testing to prove both its safety and effectiveness. FDA clearance just means that the device seems to be substantially equivalent to other devices already on sale, and there’s no immediate concern about its safety, and at least some evidence of its effectiveness.

This product seems to have been evaluated in only one study, which, sort of demonstrated its effectiveness for treating TMJ. The ear stabilizer (then under a different name) was compared with jaw exercises and a bite splint for treating patients with many TMJ symptoms, such as limited jaw opening, myofascial and jaw pain, arthralgia, and a VAS pain score >4.

Results showed the biggest impact on the ability to open the jaw, with a lower impact on VAS pain scores. According to researchers, they had demonstrated the “statistically significant noninferiority” of their product.

It’s right to be suspicious of new TMJ treatments, but we should be hopeful, too. TMJ is not a uniform condition, and we benefit from having a multitude of treatment options, especially drug-free treatment options.

If you are looking for effective TMJ treatment, please call (803) 781-9090 for an appointment with a Columbia, SC TMJ dentist at Smile Columbia Dentistry.