What is orofacial pain and how can it be treated?

What is orofacial pain and how can it be treated?

TMJ DubuqueOrofacial pain involves discomfort that affects the face, jaws, or mouth. A number of conditions including impacted wisdom teeth, abscessed teeth, and TMJ disorder can cause orofacial pain. Treating facial and oral pain depends on its underlying cause. After performing an examination, our oral surgeons can determine the best type of treatment. In some instances, oral surgery such as a tooth extraction or repairing damage to the TMJ may be necessary.

What kinds of sensations are considered as orofacial pain?

Orofacial pain can involve sharp, nagging pains like toothaches, facial tenderness, and discomfort on the face along the jaw line and under the ears.

How can tooth extractions help?

If the source of orofacial pain is an impacted or abscessed tooth, removing the tooth can alleviate symptoms and improve oral function. Impacted wisdom teeth are extracted because they are not necessary for oral function and their retention can lead to an array of health problems including discomfort, unhealthy tooth movement, and infections. An abscessed tooth that cannot be saved with root canal therapy will need extraction, too. When teeth are abscessed, they can infect the entire oral health system if left untreated. When performing extractions, our team delivers gentle and comfortable treatment by utilizing the latest surgical techniques and anesthetic medication.

What is TMJ disorder and why does it cause orofacial pain?

TMJ disorder is a condition where the temporomandibular joint is strained by misaligned jawbones, malocclusions, or bruxism (the habit of clenching and grinding teeth). This condition is a major contributor to facial discomfort and can greatly impair oral function. The TMJs are joints that facilitate all mouth movement, and when strained or damaged, they can “lock up”.

A damaged TMJ affects one’s ability to enjoy smooth oral function. Patients may feel popping sensations during mouth movement, facial pain, and headaches.

How is TMJ disorder treated?

If TMJ disorder is diagnosed, a dentist may attempt to alleviate symptoms and improve oral function with minimally invasive treatment such as placing restorations or prescribing occlusal night guards. If these treatments are ineffective, a patient will be referred to an oral and maxillofacial surgeon who can repair damage done to the TMJ and/or realign the lower jaw to a healthier position.