Pain Sensitivity Modifies Risk of Injury-Related Temporomandibular Disorder

J Dent Res. 2020 May;99(5):530-536. doi: 10.1177/0022034520913247. Epub 2020 Mar 20.


This study evaluates contributions of jaw injury and experimental pain sensitivity to risk of developing painful temporomandibular disorder (TMD). Data were from the Orofacial Pain: Prospective Evaluation and Risk Assessment (OPPERA) nested case-control study of incident painful TMD. Injury and subsequent onset of painful TMD were monitored prospectively for ≤5 y in a community-based sample of 409 US adults who did not have TMD when enrolled. At baseline, thermal-pressure and pinprick pain sensitivity, as potential effect modifiers, were measured using quantitative sensory testing. During follow-up, jaw injury from any of 9 types of potentially traumatic events was determined using quarterly (3-monthly) health update questionnaires. Study examiners classified incident painful TMD, yielding 233 incident cases and 176 matched controls. Logistic regression models, estimated incidence odds ratios (IORs), and 95% confidence limits (CLs) were used for the association between injury and subsequent onset of painful TMD. During follow-up, 38.2% of incident cases and 13.1% of controls reported 1 or more injuries that were 4 times as likely to be intrinsic (i.e., sustained mouth opening or yawning) as extrinsic (e.g., dental visits, whiplash). Injuries due to extrinsic events (IOR = 7.6; 95% CL, 1.6-36.2), sustained opening (IOR = 5.4; 95% CL, 2.4-12.2), and yawning (IOR = 3.4; 95% CL, 1.6-7.3) were associated with increased TMD incidence. Both a single injury (IOR = 6.0; 95% CL, 2.9-12.4) and multiple injuries (IOR = 9.4; 95% CL, 3.4,25.6) predicted greater incidence of painful TMD than events perceived as noninjurious (IOR = 1.9; 95% CL, 1.1-3.4). Injury-associated risk of painful TMD was elevated in people with high sensitivity to heat pain (IOR = 7.4; 95% CL, 3.1-18.0) compared to people with low sensitivity to heat pain (IOR = 3.9; 95% CL, 1.7-8.4). Jaw injury was strongly associated with elevated painful TMD risk, and the risk was amplified in subjects who had enhanced sensitivity to heat pain at enrollment. Commonly occurring but seemingly innocuous events, such as yawning injury, should not be overlooked when judging prognostic importance of jaw injury.

Keywords: central sensitization; incidence; pain threshold; prospective studies; risk factors; temporomandibular joint disorders.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Case-Control Studies
  • Facial Pain / epidemiology
  • Facial Pain / etiology
  • Humans
  • Prospective Studies
  • Risk Factors
  • Temporomandibular Joint Disorders* / epidemiology
  • Temporomandibular Joint Disorders* / etiology