Objectives: As impact of literature concerning this subject is scarce, the objectives of this study were to assess whether the Health Related Quality of Life (HRQoL) is decreased in patients with painful temporomandibular disorders as compared to the HRQoL in the general population, and to evaluate to what extent pain duration affects HRQoL.
Methods: Data concerning physical and mental health were retrieved from patients with painful temporomandibular disorders. Assessment tools used were: the Mandibular Function Impairment Questionnaire (MFIQ), the Short-Form-36 (SF-36), the Hospital Anxiety and Depression Schedule (HADS), and the General Health Questionnaire (GHQ). In order to examine the influence of the duration of pain on HRQoL, the total sample was divided into three different subgroups. Subgroup 1 consisted of patients with complaints existing less than one year. Patients with complaints from 1 to 3 years were allocated to the second group. The 3rd subgroup included patients with complaints longer than 3 years.
Results: The total sample consisted of 95 patients (90 females and 5 males). On most physical and social functioning items, groups 2 and 3 scored significantly worse than the general population. On the other hand, none of the groups differed from the general population when comparing the mental items. Duration of pain was significantly correlated with SF-36 subscale physical functioning and the mandibular impairment.
Conclusion: Patients with TMD pain less than one year score better than compared to the population norm. With a longer duration of pain, mental health scores and role limitations due to emotional problems do not appear to be seriously affected by reduced physical health, while social functioning appears to be considerably affected.