Background. Studies of historical data suggest a link between exogenous estrogen use and referral for treatment for temporomandibular disorders, or TMDs. The purpose of the authors' study was to determine the association between exogenous estrogen use and signs and symptoms of TMD assessed by direct physical examination in a randomly selected community sample of primarily postmenopausal women. Methods. A calibrated clinical examiner examined a stratified random sample of 510 women aged 37 to 82 years using the Craniomandibular Index, or CMI. All medications that subjects were taking at the time of the examination were identified by interview and examination of subjects' medication containers on two occasions. One hundred seventy-four subjects were taking medications containing estrogen, and 336 were taking no such medications. Results. The muscle and joint signs and symptoms of women taking and not taking estrogen were not significantly different after the authors controlled for sociocultural, demographic and health care utilization variables. Estrogen use also failed to distinguish women receiving relatively high and low scores on the CMI. Conclusion. Estrogen replacement therapy does not place women at increased risk of developing TMDs. Clinical Implications. Clinicians need not be concerned that patients taking oral contraceptives or replacement estrogens are at increased risk of developing TMDs.
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