Prevalence of symptoms and signs indicative of temporomandibular disorders in children and adolescents. A cross-sectional epidemiological investigation covering two decades

A Anastassaki Köhler, A Nydell Helkimo, T Magnusson, A Hugoson
European Archives of Paediatric Dentistry: Official Journal of the European Academy of Paediatric Dentistry 2009, 10 Suppl 1: 16-25

AIMS: These were to 1) estimate the prevalence of subjective symptoms and clinical signs of temporomandibular disorders (TMD) in children and adolescents in the city of Jönköping, Sweden, 2) follow possible variations in TMD signs and symptoms over a 20-year period, and 3) study possible associations between TMD symptoms and signs and factors of interest.

DESIGN: About 100 individuals in the age groups of 3, 5, 10 and 15 years participated in cross-sectional stratified epidemiological investigations in 1983, 1993 and 2003.

METHODS: All participants were asked to fill in a questionnaire including questions on general and oral health, dental care habits and some socio-demographic issues. More specific questions recorded the presence or absence of subjective symptoms: tiredness in the jaws on awakening or during chewing; clicking sounds or crepitations from the temporomandibular joints (TMJs); locking/ catching of the mandible; luxation of the mandible; reduced jaw movement capacity; pain during jaw movements; other pain conditions in the jaws or in the TMJ regions. Subjects were examined clinically at each time period for; jaw mobility (maximum jaw opening including vertical overbite, maximum laterotrusion to the right and to the left, maximum protrusion); TMJ function (normal function, deflection on jaw opening of >2 mm, TMJ clicking or crepitations, TMJ locking, TMJ luxation); pain on jaw movement (no pain on movements, pain on one movement, pain on more than one movement); muscle pain (no muscle pain, pain on palpation in 1-3 sites, pain on palpation in >3 sites); TMJ pain (no joint pain, pain on lateral palpation of one or both joints, pain on posterior palpation of one or both joints). No functional examination of the masticatory system was performed in children aged 3 and 5 years.

RESULTS: TMD-related symptoms were very rare in 3- and 5-year-olds. In the age groups of 10- and 15-year olds, 5-9% of the participants reported more severe symptoms, up to 50% showed one or more TMD signs, while it was estimated that 1-2% were in need of TMD treatment. Several symptoms and signs increased with age. No gender differences, with the exception of recurrent headache, were noted. Oral parafunctions were reported by 11-47%. Apart from a few variables, no statistically significant changes in the prevalence of TMD symptoms and signs were observed over the 20-year period. Clenching/grinding of teeth and general health factors were found to be associated with TMD symptoms and signs.

CONCLUSIONS: The prevalence of more severe TMD symptoms and signs in children and adolescents was generally low in all three examinations and did not change significantly during the 20-year period. Increasing age, general health factors and oral parafunctions were associated with TMD symptoms and signs in 10- and 15-year-olds.

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