What is the bottom line for the taste-based approach for bruxism and TMJD?
Put simply, for bruxism the taste-based approach has the potential to stop the behavior and arrest any related symptoms.
For TMJD, the situation is much more complicated. For starters, bruxism may be the primary cause, completely absent, or a secondary cause in any TMJD patient. The Taste-Based approach therefore has the potential to completely resolve, not help at all, or provide partial relief in any given case. Understanding the contribution of bruxism to the TMJD problem is not necessarily easy to do. Perhaps the common sense approach of linking obvious dental damage from bruxism to TMJD through a patient history would make a person more likely to be helped by the taste based approach.
As previously discussed, the TMJD world is filled with uncertainty. Therefore, it is best to proceed very carefully from the conservative, reversible, non-invasive procedures to more aggressive approaches. This is not just my recommendation, but the recommendation of the largest unbiased, government funded review of the literature available. The report was prepared for the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality and funded by congress. TMJD can be debilitating to its many sufferers, so the conservative route may be difficult to swallow. However, if you take nothing else away from this site, please think twice before you sign up for anything drastic. As bad as the situation is before major interventions, I have read enough on the internet to convince me that it can get much worse.
It is my opinion that if bruxism was unequivocally eliminated as a root cause for TMJD it would provide the medical team with very valuable information, eliminating a common catch-all reason for intractable TMJD problems. Of course, there is also a good chance that stopping bruxing will go a long way toward reducing TMJD symptoms . Thus, using the taste-based approach would be high on my list of things to try, perhaps in parallel with other conservative therapies. I would certainly try it before subjecting myself to any of the more aggressive, non-reversible treatments, particularly if signs of bruxism were present. Perhaps if a medical history revealed a clear initiating event such as a recent trauma, the taste based approach would be less appealing. However, it is also possible that the trauma could trigger bruxism, the obvious (dental) signs of which may take years to develop.
Bottom line, the taste based approach has a reasonable chance of alleviating TMJD symptoms with low risk. Even if it didn’t directly help, knowing bruxism was absent should help the medical team understand the condition and establish a useful baseline in case the more radical interventions actually produced bruxism, a real possibility.
It is beyond the scope or intent of this site (or my abilities) to disentangle the TMJD mess. A very real question is whether you have TMJD (and by what definition) or some related disorder. If you are in serious pain, do everything you can to educate yourself, actively solicit second and third opinions, and be careful.