TMD in children and adolescents: prevalence of pain, gender differences, and perceived treatment need

T List, K Wahlund, B Wenneberg, S F Dworkin
Journal of Orofacial Pain 1999, 13 (1): 9-20

AIMS: The aim of this study was to determine the prevalence of pain that is related to temporomandibular disorders (TMD), gender differences, and perceived treatment need in children and adolescents at a public dental clinic in Linköping, Sweden.

METHODS: A total of 862 children and adolescents aged 12 to 18 years received a questionnaire and their jaw opening was measured. Those who reported pain once a week or more in the masticatory system received a more comprehensive examination, including the Research Diagnostic Criteria for TMD and a neurologic examination (group 1). Group 2 reported pain less than once a week.

RESULTS: Seven percent of subjects (63/862) were diagnosed with TMD pain. Both genders exhibited similar distributions of TMD diagnoses, except that myofascial pain was significantly more common in girls than in boys. Prevalence of pain once a week or more was reported as: 21% in the head; 12% in the temples; and 3% in the face, temporomandibular joint, or jaws. The prevalence of TMD-related pain was significantly higher in girls than in boys. Self-reported TMD symptoms were significantly more common (P < 0.001) in group 1. No significant gender differences were found in group 1 for pain intensity, behavioral rating scale scores, medicine consumption, reported days of school absence, or perceived need for treatment.

CONCLUSION: Overall, TMD-related pain was more common in girls than in boys. A majority of children and adolescents who experienced pain once a week or more perceived a need for treatment. Seven percent of the examined subjects were diagnosed with TMD pain.

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