Prevalence of signs and symptoms of temporomandibular disorders in an urban and rural German population: results of a population-based Study of Health in Pomerania

Dietmar Gesch, Olaf Bernhardt, Dietrich Alte, Christian Schwahn, Thomas Kocher, Ulrich John, Elke Hensel
Quintessence International 2004, 35 (2): 143-50

OBJECTIVE: Based on a randomized, population study (Study of Health in Pomerania [SHIP]), the objective of the present study was to determine incidence of signs and symptoms of temporomandibular disorders (TMD) in adults 20 years or older and to compare the data with TMD prevalence of other exclusively random sample studies that fulfilled criteria similar to those of this study (age > or = 20 years, age range > or = 40 years, sample size > or = 500 subjects, equal gender distribution).

METHOD AND MATERIALS: Men and women (n = 7,008) 20 to 79 years of age from mid- and small-sized towns in a rural region in northeast Germany were randomly sampled from resident registry office files. The response rate was 68.8%. Adults between the ages of 20 and 81 years (n = 4,289) were clinically and anamnestically examined.

RESULTS: Half of the subjects (49.9%) had one or more clinical signs of TMD, but only 2.7% were subjectively aware of temporomandibular joint (TMJ) pain symptoms. Women showed higher frequency for all signs and symptoms of TMD than men. However, these differences were not significant for all signs and symptoms in all age groups. The influence of age on TMD signs and symptoms was less pronounced. The prevalence for the following variables found in the present study compared to those of other comparable, random sample studies was: clinical examination; (TMJ) tenderness to palpation (5% versus 2% to 6%); masticatory muscle tenderness (15% versus 19% to 21%); joint sounds (25% versus 15% to 25%); limited maximum mouth opening < 40 mm (9% versus 5% to 8%); pain upon movement of the mandible (1% versus 1% to 3%); irregular jaw movements (deviation, deflection) (28% versus 28%); interview: subjective joint sounds (9% versus 11% to 13%); and subjective TMJ pain (3% versus 4% to 7%).

CONCLUSION: The TMD incidence in the current study agreed quite well with the other studies based on random samples with similar subjects and design. The large range of prevalence for signs and symptoms of TMD documented in reviews and meta-analyses could therefore not be confirmed.

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