Worn down or damaged tissue in the temporomandibular joint is one of the causes of TMJ pain. The goal of regenerative therapy is to repair, or regenerate, the damaged tissue.

Tissue Regenerative methods have been studied and used in medicine for many years now and research is rapidly growing. You may have heard about some of these novel therapies:  Stem Cell Therapy, Platelet Rich Plasma (PRP), and Platelet Rich Fibrin (PRF).

What does this mean for you?

Dr. Postol was the first to use PRF therapy for TMJ disorder. Now, PRF is becoming a preferred method to help heal TMJ-related tissue damage that can occur with temporal tendinitis, and a dislocated Jaw (reducing and non-reducing disc displacements).

Let’s explain

Lizards can grow new tails, so why can’t humans grow new limbs? Science Fantasy stories like The Lizard from Spider-Man exploit this theme to a great and fun effect! Well… science has shown that while lizards can grow a new tail they cannot actually grow new limbs, and those new tails are not perfect new tails, either. They are imperfect cartilage tubes without a spinal column of nerves that also don’t have the normal body patterning to match the original equipment. But when scientists added Stem Cells to the mix, a “perfect tail” was produced!

a vial of blood being placed in a spinner with other vials
vial of blood help by a hand wearing disposable gloves

Stem Cell Therapy

Stem cell therapy utilizes stem cells (unspecialized cells that can replace a variety of different specialized cells in your body), typically taken from bone marrow or sometimes body fat. There are a limited number of stem cells in these tissues and extracting them is a relatively complex procedure. Bone marrow or fat tissues are concentrated with a centrifuge. The solution is injected into a problem area where it triggers a healing response, sometimes even forming new tissue. It is a truly revolutionary procedure that can regenerate new tissue. Stem Cell Therapy is being used for such things as replacing damaged nerve cells in spinal cord injury, bone marrow transplants, and perhaps someday will allow us to replace damaged organs.

Platelet-Rich Plasma (PRP)

Platelet-rich plasma utilizes a simpler procedure whereby blood, platelets (the clotting cells in our blood), and plasma are drawn. The platelets and plasma are concentrated with compounds that promote the healing of damaged ligaments, tendons, or muscles. The blood is spun in a centrifuge at a high speed which then separates into distinct layers. Blood cells fall to the bottom and the PRP remains near the top.  The concentrated PRP is injected into the affected area to help tissues heal more rapidly and predictably.  PRP has been used for chronic tendon injuries such as tennis elbow, pulled hamstrings, and knee sprains. It’s also used to speed healing after surgeries such as torn rotator cuff, or ACL (knee) injuries, and in arthritic joints.  It has also been selectively used in dermatology and some TMJ cases.

Platelet-Rich Fibrin (PRF)

Platelet-rich fibrin is a newer technique that was developed to improve the positive effects of PRP.  Smaller amounts of blood are used, and the blood is spun at a lower speed. A concentrated PRF solution has a higher concentration of platelets plus white blood cells and stem cells. This solution provides a higher level of healing factors than seen in PRP. The more concentrated PRF seems to be more effective in healing damaged tissues. PRF has been used more extensively in dentistry to help heal bone after extractions, periodontal (gum and bone) surgery, and to guide the growth of new bone for the placement of implants. PRF is becoming a preferred method to help heal TMJ-related tissue damage that can occur with temporal tendinitis, and a dislocated jaw (reducing and non-reducing disc displacements).

Benefits of PRF vs. PRP include:

  • Less pain vs PRP
  • Shorter recovery time
  • Significant improvement in symptoms after a few sessions
  • May help avoid more invasive surgeries or long-term use of pain medications

It can be said that PRF allows doctors to use natural products from your own body to help heal damaged tissue to the extent your body is able to heal itself.  These “regenerative” therapies are bringing a new level of excitement for doctors who manage TMJ cases! 

What a great experience! EVERY ONE was so friendly and kind. It’s so wonderful that Dr. Postol takes real one on one time for each patient. It makes you feel comfortable and heard. I appreciated that so much!

Sasha R.

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