Claudia Ivonne Rodríguez Castañeda, student at the doctoral program in Medical Dental Sciences and Health of the National Autonomous University of Mexico (UNAM), obtained the John Gray Scholarship from the International Association for Dental Research (IADR), for her work in the care of patients with orofacial pain and temporomandibular joint disorder. This condition is a joint disorder which causes the jaw popping or clicking or even “getting stuck” for a moment, along with other problems such as headaches that mimic migraines.

Rodríguez Castañeda is the first Latin American to receive the John Gray Fellowship Award, which is awarded every two years to an international research project that benefits the dental health of the population. Until now, only graduate students from Korea, Japan, Ireland, Israel, Turkey and China had received it.

The Mexican researcher will do stays in Uruguay, where she will share the experience of using devices developed at UNAM for the diagnosis and treatment of dental conditions.

In her project “Evaluation of changes in electromyographic differences of masseter muscles during orthodontic deprogramming therapy”, Rodríguez Castañeda works in collaboration with Marcelo Kreiner, of the University of the Republic (Uruguay), and one of the most prestigious specialists worldwide in orofacial pain and temporomandibular disorders.

University devices

Between 40 and 65 percent of the world’s population suffers from temporomandibular joint disorders and orofacial pain, and six percent of cases become a chronic problem. “People get used to living with a jaw that thunders them, gets stuck and hurts, so they stop paying attention and don’t care it,” said the orthodontist.

This condition has multiple causes: tooth decay, poor dental position, dental infections, use of poorly fitting prostheses, stress and dental trauma, among others.

In collaboration with the UNAM Faculty of Higher Studies Iztacala, and with the Center for Research and Advanced Studies of the National Polytechnic Institute (CINVESTAV), for 11 years the Physiology Laboratory of the Division of Postgraduate Studies and Research of the Faculty of Dentistry at the UNAM has developed three devices that allow timely and accurate diagnosis and treatments.

One of them is the digital electromyograph, which uses sensors that are placed externally to determine the muscular activity at rest and activity.

Another is an occlusal analysis system, which is placed in the patient’s mouth and allows the dentist to know the strength of the bite exerted on the teeth.

Finally, the third is a digital reflexometer, with the ability to evaluate the masticatory function by measuring the response time of the central nervous system to some stimulus.

Fernando Ángeles Medina, head of the Laboratory, explained that these devices, in the process of patenting, have benefited more than two thousand patients in Mexico. He indicated that they have proven their effectiveness in the diagnosis of bruxism, sleep apnea and temporomandibular pain.

The IADR brings together 11,000 dentists from all over the world and its objective is to support oral health research and disseminate the results worldwide.