Aim: To assess the scientific evidence on the efficacy of low-level laser therapy (LLLT) in the treatment of temporomandibular disorders (TMD).
Methods: The databases of PubMed, Science Direct, Cochrane Clinical Trials Register, and PEDro were manually and electronically searched up to February 2010. Two independent reviewers screened, extracted, and assessed the quality of the publications. A meta-analysis- was performed to quantify the pooled effect of LLLT on pain and function in patients with chronic TMD.
Results: The literature search identified 323 papers without overlap between selected databases, but after the two-phase study selection, only six randomized clinical trials (RCT) were included in the systematic review. The primary outcome of interest was the change in pain from baseline to endpoint. The pooled effect of LLLT on pain, measured through a visual analog scale with a mean difference of 7.77 mm (95% confidence interval [CI]: -2.49 to 18.02), was not statistically significant from placebo. Change from baseline to endpoint of secondary outcomes was 4.04 mm (95% CI 3.06 to 5.02) for mandibular maximum vertical opening; 1.64 mm (95% CI 0.10 to 3.17) for right lateral excursion and 1.90 mm (95% CI: -4.08 to 7.88) for left lateral excursion.
Conclusion: Currently, there is no evidence to support the effectiveness of LLLT in the treatment of TMD.