NIH Awards $3.3M to Ribeiro Dasilva and Fillingim

Dasilva Fillingim
“Previous research has revealed that the mechanisms contributing to pain in people with TMDs are complex and multifactorial, leaving dentists with few treatment options and patients with little hope for controlling their pain. However, emerging evidence suggests that photobiomodulation could help reduce pain caused by TMDs.”
– Margarete Ribeiro Dasilva and Roger Fillingim

UF College of Dentistry, or UFCD, researchers Margarete Ribeiro Dasilva, D.D.S., and Roger B. Fillingim, Ph.D., received a five-year $3.3 million National Institutes of Health UH3 grant from the National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research. Dasilva and Fillingim are co-principal investigators on the project, “Photobiomodulation for the Management of Temporomandibular Disorder Pain.” The project aims to rigorously test the efficacy of laser and light emitting diode, or LED, light therapy for individuals experiencing painful temporomandibular disorders, or TMDs.

Over the next five years, they will investigate the potential of photobiomodulation, or PBM, also known as cold laser therapy, in managing pain for TMD patients, enrolling 130 TMD participants in a carefully controlled clinical trial. The grant supported a purchase of two state-of-the-art PBM machines to use in their research.The goal of the UH3 clinical trial is determining whether PBM can offer an alternative treatment for individuals living with painful TMDs – a treatment that will reduce pain for patients while also reducing the use of opioids in pain management.

“We hope this research also leads to further studies to determine dosing and treatment parameters, to explore further the functional mechanisms that may underlie the effect of PBM on pain responses and sensitivity, and to possibly explore the role of sex hormones since women are known to be more prone to TMD,” Ribeiro Dasilva and Fillingim said.

They also thanked the UFCD Office of Research for providing an invaluable pilot award. During the pilot, the team gathered essential pilot data and showcased the feasibility of their research proposal to the NIH, making the pilot study a pivotal element to securing the NIH award.

Ribeiro Dasilva and Fillingim have collaborated on TMD research for over 15 years. They both were investigators for the Orofacial Pain: Prospective Evaluation and Risk Assessment, or OPPERA, and Study of Orofacial Pain and Propranolol, or SOPPRANO, projects. They also have an outstanding team of collaborators, including dental faculty Cesar Migiorati, D.D.S., M.S., Ph.D., and Frank Gibson, Ph.D., and from the UF College of Public Health and Health Professions, Zhigang Li, Ph.D.

Ribeiro Dasilva is a clinical associate professor in the UFCD Department of Restorative Dental Sciences, Division of Prosthodontics. Fillingim is a professor in the UFCD Department of Community Dentistry & Behavioral Science and is the director of the UF Pain Research and Intervention Center of Excellence.