Is there an association between temporomandibular disorders and playing a musical instrument? A review of literature

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Temporomandibular disorders (TMDs) have a multifactorial etiology. Among others, parafunctions and oral habits have been suggested as important initiating and perpetuating factors. Playing a musical instrument that loads the masticatory system, like wind instruments and the violin or viola, has been suggested to be part of this group of etiological factors. However, the evidence base for this suggestion is lacking. Therefore, the aim of this study was to review the literature on the possible association between playing a musical instrument and developing and/or having a TMD. A PubMed search, using the query [‘Music’(Mesh) AND ‘Craniomandibular Disorders’(Mesh)], yielded 19 articles, 14 of which were included in this review. Six of 14 papers had a case-control or pre-test-post-test design; the remaining eight papers were case reports of expert opinions. The former papers were analysed and tabulated according to the PICO (Patient/population-Intervention-Control/comparison-Outcome/results) system; the latter ones were only summarised and tabulated. All articles with a case-control or pre-test-post-test design suggested a possible association between TMD and playing a musical instrument, especially the violin and viola. However, no clear-cut conclusion could be drawn as to whether playing a musical instrument is directly associated with TMD, or only in combination with other factors. More and better research on this topic is needed, as to enable a better counselling and possibly even a better treatment of the suffering musician.

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