Orofacial pain symptom prevalence: Selective sex differences in the elderly?

Academic Article


  • This study investigated sex differences in orofacial pain symptoms in a sample of elderly adults. Furthermore, differences across sex were tested on symptom continuity, overall duration, pain severity, activity reduction, and health care utilization, related to each specific symptom. Telephone interviews were conducted with a stratified random sample of community dwelling older (65+) north Floridians. A total of 5860 households were contacted and screened, with 75.3% participating to the point where their eligibility for the study could be determined. Of the remaining households, 1636 completed the interview. Of the total sample, 17.4% reported experiencing at least one of the four target orofacial pain symptoms (jaw joint pain, face pain, oral sores, burning mouth) during the past year, suggesting that orofacial pain symptoms are common in older adults. Our findings for prevalence of each specific symptom (jaw joint pain, 7.7%; face pain, 6.9%; oral sores, 6.4%; toothache, 12.0%; burning mouth, 1.7%) are similar to those estimated by the 1989 National Health Interview Survey, for the US adult population. Consistent with other epidemiological and clinical studies, we found that females were more likely to report jaw joint pain and face pain than males. In contrast to clinical studies, no differences were found on subjective ratings of pain severity, for any symptom. Differences across sex were most likely to be reported for jaw joint pain related variables, suggesting undetermined sex-uniqueness for these symptoms. In contrast to previous studies, older females tended to report lower levels of health care utilization than older males. This is the first study to our knowledge that reports orofacial symptom-specific sex differences among the elderly.
  • Authors

    Published In

  • PAIN  Journal
  • Digital Object Identifier (doi)

    Author List

  • Riley JL; Gilbert GH; Heft MW
  • Start Page

  • 97
  • End Page

  • 104
  • Volume

  • 76
  • Issue

  • 1-2