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Photobiomodulation with orofacial myofunctional therapy in patients with TMD

There is a form of light therapy, spoken of generally as ‘photobiomodulation’, that applies various forms of visible and near-infrared light to endogenous chromophores, in the hope of eliciting photophysical and photochemical events at various biological scales, typically in pursuit of pain relief. It is cleared for marketing by the FDA, based on emergent efficacy and safety data. But does it work, and is it useful in the SLP space?

A recent study (Alves G, et al., Codas, 2021 Jun 4;33(6):e20200193, doi: 10.1590/2317-1782/20202020193) investigated this in patients with temporomandibular muscle disorder (TMD) in a randomized, blinded trial of eleven women undergoing 12 sessions of orofacial myofunctional therapy with and without adjunct photobiomodulation. Outcome metrics were pain perception using the visual analogue scale, normal palpation sensitivity, and the oral health impact quality of life short form (OHIP-14).

Results, reasonably enough, given the fairly subjective metrics, were vague. There was increased mandibular opening and protrusion in the experimental group, and there were improvements in the evaluation of QOL. It may therefore be, that further study of light therapy in OMT is warranted.

MyoNews from BreatheWorksTM is a report on trends and developments in oromyofunctional disorder and therapy. These updates are not intended as diagnosis, treatment, cure or prevention of any disease or syndrome.

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