Prevalence of Temporomandibular Dysfunction in Children and Adolescents


Objective: To review the prevalence of temporomandibular disorders (TMD) in children and adolescents, verifying the methodological variations.

Data sources: Research conducted in Medline, PubMed, Lilacs and BBO databases, including manuscripts (except reviews and case reports) published from 1990 to 2012. The descriptors were "temporomandibular joint syndrome", "temporomandibular joint dysfunction syndrome", "temporomandibular joint disorders", "prevalence studies", and "cross-sectional studies"; the words "dysfunction", "disorder", "temporomandibular", "children", "adolescents", "prevalence", "frequency", and "transversal" were used.

Data synthesis: Seventeen articles were selected, and the TMD frequency varied from 16% to 68%. Regarding the methodological criteria, only three articles (18%) reported sample size determination, three (18%) clearly described the sample selection process by stratified selection technique, and nine studies (53%) carried out the calibration of the examiners. The diagnostic criteria used in the studies were: Helkimo index (n=2; 12%), Research Diagnostic Criteria for Temporomandibular Disorders (RDC/TMD) (n=4; 24%), the jaw index (n=1; 6%), clinical protocols (n=10; 59%), and anamnestic questionnaires (n=6; 35%).

Conclusions: The TMD prevalence in children and adolescents varies in the literature. Appropriate and standardised methods are needed to identify, with greater validity, the presence of TMD in this population, allowing a better understanding of the pathological aspects in order to address more effective preventive and therapeutic procedures.