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Epidemiology of Temporomandibular Disorders (TMDs)

Updated: Feb 12

Every time you eat, speak, swallow, or yawn, you utilize your temporomandibular joints, muscles of mastication, and associated structures.

This is my second post in an ongoing series on temporomandibular disorders (TMDs). To read my last post titled, "Temporomandibular Joint (TMJ) Anatomy and Function," click HERE.

Today’s focus is on the epidemiology of temporomandibular disorders.

Epidemiology of Temporomandibular Disorders (TMDs)

Epidemiology of Temporomandibular Disorders (TMDs)

How many people are affected by Temporomandibular Disorders (TMDs)?

To answer the question, we will start by defining an epidemiological term, prevalence.

Prevalence is the proportion of a population with a disease or health condition within a specified period of time.

The reported prevalence of temporomandibular disorders in the general population varies depending on the methods employed by investigators in different studies and how they define TMDs.

Based on the National Health Interview Survey (NHIS), the prevalence of TMDs in the United States adult population from 2017-2018 was 4.8%. The prevalence was almost twice as high in females compared with males and in low-income, compared with high-income households (1).

In a prospective study, the incidence rate of first-onset TMD was 3.9% per annum (2). This means that for every 100 TMD-free people enrolled, nearly 4 people per year developed TMD.

A systematic review based on the Research Diagnostic Criteria for Temporomandibular Disorders (RDC/TMD) reported:

  • 9.7% prevalence for myofascial pain (muscle pain),

  • 11.4% for disc displacement with reduction (TMJ clicking without limited opening), and,

  • 2.6% for arthralgia (pain involving one or both joints) (3).

Most people experience intermittent symptoms that are mild to moderate in intensity and do not last for appreciable periods of time. Only a small percentage experience acute or chronic pain or dysfunction that warrants evaluation and management.


Join me next time as I discuss the etiology of TMDs.

Until next time….

Dr. Idahosa


1.     National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine; Health and Medicine Division; Board on Health Care Services; Board on Health Sciences Policy; Committee on Temporomandibular Disorders (TMDs): From Research Discoveries to Clinical Treatment; Yost O, Liverman CT, English R, et al., editors. Temporomandibular Disorders: Priorities for Research and Care. Washington (DC): National Academies Press (US); 2020 Mar 12. Appendix C, Prevalence, Impact, and Costs of Treatment for Temporomandibular Disorders. Available from:


2.     (Slade GD, Ohrbach R, Greenspan JD, Fillingim RB, Bair E, Sanders AE, Dubner R, Diatchenko L, Meloto CB, Smith S, Maixner W. Painful Temporomandibular Disorder: Decade of Discovery from OPPERA Studies. J Dent Res. 2016 Sep;95(10):1084-92. doi: 10.1177/0022034516653743. Epub 2016 Jun 23. PMID: 27339423; PMCID: PMC5004239.


3.     Manfredini D, Guarda-Nardini L, Winocur E, Piccotti F, Ahlberg J, Lobbezoo F. Research diagnostic criteria for temporomandibular disorders: a systematic review of axis I epidemiologic findings. Oral Surg Oral Med Oral Pathol Oral Radiol Endod. 2011 Oct;112(4):453-62. doi: 10.1016/j.tripleo.2011.04.021. Epub 2011 Aug 11. PMID: 21835653.


© Epidemiology of Temporomandibular Disorders (TMDs). Dr. Chizobam Idahosa.

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