The aim of this study was to estimate the prevalence of temporomandibular disorders (TMD) symptoms in an Italian population sample, focusing on gender and age differences. We selected 2005 individuals by telephone survey and asked them about TMD symptoms like difficulty in jaw movement, jaw pain and joint sounds. Also, tooth-clenching and/or tooth-grinding habits were investigated. Of the study population, 8·1% reported limitations in jaw movements, 5·1% reported jaw pain and 33·3% reported joint sounds. Furthermore, 37·3% reported tooth-clenching/tooth-grinding. Confidence intervals of proportions were calculated. Significant gender differences were found for jaw limitation and pain (chi-square test;P< 0·05). Symptoms reduced with increasing age. The prevalence of TMD symptoms in the Italian population was consistent with data reported from similar studies. Gender and age differences were found for jaw pain and limitation in jaw movements.