Is there a trend of decreasing prevalence of TMD-related symptoms with ageing among the elderly?

Gunnar E Carlsson, Gunnar Ekbäck, Anders Johansson, Sven Ordell, Lennart Unell
Acta Odontologica Scandinavica 2014, 72 (8): 714-20

OBJECTIVE: Older adults have not been studied as much as younger ones regarding prevalence of TMD-related symptoms. The aim was to assess the prevalence of TMD-related symptoms in two population samples, 70 and 80 years old.

MATERIALS AND METHODS: Identical questionnaires were in 2012 sent to all subjects born in 1932 and 1942 living in two Swedish counties. The response rate was 70.1%, resulting in samples of 5697 70- and 2922 80-year-old subjects. The questionnaire comprised 53 questions. Answers to questions on problems regarding TMD-related symptoms and awareness of bruxism were analysed.

RESULTS: Twelve per cent of the women and 7% of the men in the 70-year-old group reported some, rather great or severe problems regarding TMD pain. In the 80-year-olds the prevalence was 8% and 7%, respectively. Subjects who had problems with TMJ sounds reported difficulty to open the jaw wide 6-times and TMJ pain 10-13-times more frequently than subjects without such problems. Changes of taste and awareness of bruxism were the only variables significantly associated with TMD symptoms in both age groups. Number of teeth was not significantly associated with any of the TMD-related symptoms.

CONCLUSIONS: Most of the elderly subjects had no severe problems with TMD-related symptoms, but 12% of the 70-year-old women reported some, rather great or severe problems. The marked gender difference at age 70 had disappeared in the 80-year-old group. The prevalence was lower among the 80- compared with the 70-year-old subjects of both sexes. The results support the comorbidity between TMD-related symptoms and general health problems.

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