Musculoskeletal disorders (MSD) are an occupational health problem that demands a high cost and may also reduce the quality of life and productivity of the dentists. The aim of this study was to evaluate the prevalence of MSD and its association with self-reported joint damage in dentists from São Paulo (Brazil). This was a cross-sectional study performed from two self-administered questionnaires - the Nordic Musculoskeletal Questionnaire and the other containing demographic and occupational data - in 6072 dentists. Between April and May 2014, 5885 questionnaires were distributed via e-mail through São Paulo Regional Board of Dentistry (CRO-SP) and 187 in Congress and public offices. Multivariable logistic regression was used to assess the association between explanatory variables (sex, age, level of education, duration of practice in years, number of patients seen per day, previous receipt of information about ergonomics, physical activity, and the presence of joint damage) and MSD. Two hundred eighty-six valid questionnaires were returned. The prevalence of MSD was 63.6% (N.=182). Multivariable logistic regression showed that only the factor of self-reported joint damage has a significant association with MSD (OR 0.001; 95% CI: 0.000-0.007). Concerning the self-reported joint damage (60.1%), the carpal tunnel syndrome was the most frequent (13.2%). The prevalence of MSD in dentists from São Paulo is high, and carpal tunnel syndrome is the most common self-reported joint damage.