Think About the Brain: Orofacial Pain Disorders and the TBI Patient

June 22, 2015; 12-1:15 p.m. (ET)

Location: National Intrepid Center of Excellence Auditorium, Bldg. 51, Room 1010, Bethesda, Md. / Optional online participation via Adobe Connect



This educational presentation will cover the assessment and management of orofacial pain-temporomandibular disorders (TMDs) in patients with a history of mild traumatic brain injury (TBI) and/or posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD). When patients present with painful TMDs, health care providers have traditionally focused care solely towards peripheral anatomic structures, such as masticatory muscles and the temporomandibular joint. Often providers haven’t been trained to consider the management of TMDs in the context of TBI or PTSD, or how the aforementioned might affect brain activity that can modulate trigeminal nerve motor responses. TBI, PTSD, other concurrent pain disorders and psychotropic medications can facilitate cranial nerve motor activity that in turn may promote persistent, painful masticatory muscle overuse and adverse loading of the temporomandibular joint. Orofacial pain-TMD therapies that fail to consider the importance of such brain activity are often unsuccessful.

This presentation will provide insight into the treatment of orofacial pain-TMD symptoms in the TBI/PTSD patient and support better understanding of relevant central nervous system concepts.

At the conclusion of this presentation, participants will be able to:

  • Distinguish the difference between a site versus a source of pain
  • Describe four brain regions that can influence non-voluntary jaw muscle activity
  • Identify three key patient characteristics that affect the outcome of orofacial pain-TMD therapy


John Johnson, DDS, MS
Director, Orofacial Pain Residency, Naval Postgraduate Dental School Walter Reed National Military Medical Center Bethesda, Maryland


Lt. Cmdr. Cathleen Davies
Chief, Office of Clinical Training and Education Defense and Veterans Brain Injury Center Silver Spring, Maryland

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