Impact of temporomandibular disorder pain in adolescents: differences by age and gender

Ing-Marie Nilsson, Mark Drangsholt, Thomas List
Journal of Orofacial Pain 2009, 23 (2): 115-22

AIMS: To evaluate the impact of temporomandibular disorder (TMD) pain by age and gender in adolescents, with assessments of this impact specifically on school absence, medication consumption, perceived need for treatment, jaw function limitation, depressive symptoms scores and somatic complaints, and graded chronic pain scale.

METHODS: In a population-based sample, a mailed questionnaire was sent to 350 patients with self-reported TMD pain (group 1) and 350 healthy age- and sex-matched individuals (group 2) aged 12 to 19 years 2 to 4 weeks after their annual dental examination. The groups were divided into younger (age 12 to 15) and older (age 16 to 19) groups. Descriptive statistics and 95% confidence intervals were used, and chi-square and t-tests were calculated for analyzing group differences. Odds ratios were estimated using logistic regression.

RESULTS: As expected, groups 1 and 2 differed significantly in most variables related to psychosocial and behavioral factors. For adolescents reporting TMD pain once a week or more, no gender or age differences in pain intensity were seen. Jaw function limitation, depressive symptoms scores, somatic complaints, graded chronic pain, and perceived need for TMD treatment were all significantly higher in girls than in boys. Older girls reported higher analgesic consumption and school absences than older boys.

CONCLUSION: Girls reporting TMD pain had significantly greater impact on behavioral and psychosocial factors than boys. Almost one third of older girls, compared to one out of 10 older boys, reported school absences and analgesic consumption because of their TMD pain.

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