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What is Orofacial Pain?

November 26, 2017

woman holding her face in painOrofacial pain is a phrase used to describe any discomfort in the face, mouth, head, or neck. Dentists and medical professionals offer numerous treatments for chronic orofacial pain, but much of this treatment is not necessarily an effective cure. Instead, most of the treatments currently available focus on relieving the symptoms through regular preventive dental treatments that don’t necessarily fix the underlying causes of the orofacial pain and discomfort. Lucky for patients who suffer from orofacial pain, there are many new methods for treating these conditions, and there may be an innovative new treatment method on the horizon.

What Causes Orofacial Pain?

There are numerous causes of orofacial pain. Some of the most common causes of orofacial pain include:

  • Chronic teeth grinding and clenching, called bruxism, that may put too much pressure on the jaw
  • Temporomandibular joint (TMJ) dysfunction that makes it difficult to speak, chew, yawn, or smile without pain
  • Facial trauma during athletic competition, car wrecks, or other accidents that causes injury to the face
  • Orthodontic treatment to realign the bite

How is Orofacial Pain Treated?

There are currently a number of treatments available for patients struggling with orofacial pain. The first step for most medical professionals is addressing the pain. In most cases, we’ll recommend using cold compresses and over the counter pain relievers to address the inflammation and pain. We will also provide any treatments to correct damage caused by facial trauma. For patients who need to correct severe bite alignment issues that are causing excessive wear or pressure, we may use orthodontic treatment. Still, others need to practice daily facial stretches to alleviate stress on facial and jaw muscles. Oral appliances are also used to reposition the jaw during sleep relieving stress and pain. Each patient is different, and a skilled dental and/or medical team will work with you to create a personalized plan that may incorporate any number of pain relieving treatments.

The Future of Orofacial Pain Relief

At the Oregon Health and Science University, researchers have found that a protein essential to pain signaling may be produced in abundance for some patients causing severe orofacial pain and inflammation. Those who suffer from orofacial pain may receive adequate treatment by blocking this protein and reducing the discomfort, swelling, and inflammation it causes. Research is still underway to determine exactly how chronic orofacial pain can be addressed by reducing protein production, but the scientists are hopeful they’ll find an effective method for actually treating the underlying causes of facial pain rather than just addressing its symptoms.

Meet the Tysons Dental Esthetics Team

At Tysons Dental Esthetics in Falls Church, we are dedicated to helping patients lead healthy, happy, pain free lives. If you experience chronic orofacial pain or need help with other oral health concerns, please contact our friendly, knowledgeable team at Tysons Dental Esthetics to schedule a checkup or consultation with our caring team. We’ll evaluate your smile and help you find a treatment plan to ensure you achieve healthy, pain free smiles for life.

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