Premorbid and concurrent predictors of TMD onset and persistence

Richard Ohrbach, Gary D. Slade, Eric Bair, Nuvan Rathnayaka, Luda Diatchenko, Joel D. Greenspan, William Maixner, Roger B. Fillingim

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

6 Scopus citations


Background: Multiple risk factors predict temporomandibular disorders (TMD) onset, but temporal changes in risk factors and their contribution to risk of TMD have not been evaluated. The study aims were to (a) describe changes occurring in premorbid TMD risk factors when re-measured at TMD onset and 6 months later, and (b) determine if measures of change improve accuracy in predicting TMD incidence compared to premorbid measures alone. Methods: In this observational prospective cohort study at four university research clinics, 3,258 community-based, 18- to 44-year-olds without TMD were enrolled. During the 3-year median follow-up, 260 incident cases of first-onset TMD were identified, and 196 TMD-free subjects were selected as matched controls. Six-months later, 147 of 260 incident cases (56.6%) were re-examined revealing 72 (49%) with ‘persistent TMD’ and 75 (51%) whose condition had resolved (‘transient TMD’). Virtually all (126) of the 127 re-examined controls remained without TMD. Questionnaires and clinical measurements evaluated risk factors from clinical, health, psychological and behavioural and neurosensory domains. Results: Most risk factors across all four domains increased with TMD onset, remained elevated in the persistent group and declined in the transient group (i.e., significant ANOVA interactions, p <.05). Accuracy in predicting first-onset TMD, quantified as area under the receiver operating characteristic curve was 0.71 (95% CL 0.68, 0.73) using only premorbid measures of risk factors, which increased to 0.91 (95% CL 0.89, 0.94) after addition of change measures. Conclusions: TMD pain onset and persistence appear to be determined by enduring characteristics of the person as well as mutually interactive with temporally evolving variables. Significance: TMD is known to be a complex disorder, in which onset and persistence are associated with disease-related variables in multiple domains, including environmental exposure, clinical, psychological, health status, and pain processing variables. Using a more dynamic approach in order to capture change across time, many aspects of those domains were found to worsen prior to the reporting of pain, with bidirectional influences between domains and pain emergence likely. TMD onset appears to represent the cumulative effect of multiple system dysregulation.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)145-158
Number of pages14
JournalEuropean Journal of Pain (United Kingdom)
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 1 2020

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Anesthesiology and Pain Medicine


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