The present study examined the associations between craniofacial dimensions, head posture, bite force, and symptoms and signs of temporomandibular disorders (TMD). The sample comprised 96 children (51F, 45M) aged 7–13 years, sequentially admitted for orthodontic treatment of malocclusions entailing health risks. Symptoms and signs of TMD were assessed by 37 variables describing the occurrence of headache and facial pain, clicking, jaw mobility, tenderness of muscles and joints, and the Helkimo Anamnestic and Dysfunction indices. Craniofacial dimensions (33 variables), and head and cervical posture (nine variables) were recorded from lateral cephalometric radiographs taken with the subject standing with the head in a standardized posture (mirror position). Dental arch widths were measured on plaster casts and bite force was measured at the first molars on each side by means of a pressure transducer. Associations were assessed by Spearman correlations and multiple stepwise logistic regression analyses.

The magnitudes of the significant associations were generally low to moderate. On average, temporomandibular joint (TMJ) dysfunction was seen in connection with a marked forward inclination of the upper cervical spine and an increased craniocervical angulation, but no firm conclusion could be made regarding any particular craniofacial morphology in children with symptoms and signs of TMJ dysfunction. Muscle tenderness was associated with a ‘long face’ type of craniofacial morphology and a lower bite force. Headache was associated with a larger maxillary length and increased maxillary prognathism. A high score on Helkimo's Clinical Dysfunction Index was associated with smaller values of a number of vertical, horizontal, and transversal linear craniofacial dimensions and a lower bite force.

Author notes

1Department of Orthodontics, School of Dentistry, Faculty of Health Sciences, University of Copenhagen, Denmark 2Departments of Oral Function and Physiology, School of Dentistry, Faculty of Health Sciences, University of Copenhagen, Denmark