Background: Temporomandibular joint disorders (TMD) are not uncommon in patients with rheumatoid arthritis (RA). However, the extent of involvement and its clinical relevance have not been well characterized. This study evaluated the correlation between the severity of RA-related TMD and RA, as well as determined the potential predictors for early identification and management of TMD in RA patients. Methods: We sequentially recruited 56 adult RA patients from our Arthritis Clinic. TMD and RA were surveyed, clinically by questionnaires and physical examinations, and radiologically by tomography in TMD and conventional radiography in RA. The patients were stratified into no, mild and severe TMD groups according to the physical and tomographic examinations. The correlation of the severity of TMD and RA were evaluated. The relative importance of relevant predictors of severe TMD was analyzed by a logistic regression model. Results: Physical and radiologic temporomandibular joint abnormalities were found to be highly prevalent (85.7% and 74.5%) in these patients, and the occurrence increased to as much as 92.9% when the 2 data sets were combined. More than half of the patients had severe TMD presenting with debilitating symptoms or with a significant degree of bony destruction. The severity of TMD was variably correlated with RA severity. The score of hand-joint space narrowing was found to be the most influential predictor of severe TMD by logistic regression analysis. Conclusion: There was a high prevalence of TMD in RA patients. The severity of TMD variably correlated with RA severity. Clinically, a high score of hand-joint space narrowing may serve as an early indicator of RA patients at risk of severe TMD. This may facilitate early management and prevent the functional impairment of the temporomandibular joint.
- Rheumatoid arthritis
- Temporomandibular joint disorders
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