What Is Orofacial Pain and What Treatments Are Available?
If you are experiencing pain in your face, head, mouth, or neck, then you may want to pay a visit to the orofacial pain specialist at your local dental clinic.
What is orofacial pain and what treatments are available?
Orofacial pain is defined as pain that is localized to the area in front of the ears, above the neck, below the orbitomeatal line, and inside the oral cavity. The pain may be derived from tissues such as the meninges, teeth and cornea.
This kind of pain encompasses the following:
- Masticatory musculoskeletal pain
- Temporomandibular joint disorders
- Sleep disorders relevant to orofacial pain, like teeth clenching or grinding
- Neuropathic and neurovascular pain
- Breathing issues
- Oral diseases
- Orofacial dystonias
- Head or neck pain caused by poor ergonomics
- Postoperative pain
What can an orofacial pain specialist do to help treat the condition?
Your trusted dental expert can perform a variety of actions in order to correctly diagnose the orofacial pain disorder.
He can engage in an initial consultation with and examination of the patient and interpret their historical dental data. After accomplishing these, he can also perform an assessment of social, occupational and behavioral factors as well as review all related imaging and laboratory studies.
The dentist can also consult other dental experts and physicians. Often, however, orofacial pain specialists act as the primary care provider for the patient and are thus tasked with providing direct treatment, prescribing medication and rehabilitative practices, and coordinating with other health care providers to arrive at the suitable solution to the dental issue.
One example of a dental device that can help alleviate orofacial pain is an orthotic or splint; a patient can wear it over their teeth until the bite is stabilized. In some cases, permanent correction of the teeth may be recommended, and this can include making crowns, reshaping the teeth, or having an orthodontic appliance made for the patient.
Depending on the specific situation, dental experts can also advise patients to:
- Cut food into smaller pieces when eating
- Choose softer foods
- Stay away from ice or chewing gum, which can entice the patient to chew hard
- Use an ice pack on the painful area three to four times a day for about 10 minutes
- Sleep on their back
- Keep the tongue between the upper and lower teeth as much as possible
Physical therapy, massage therapy, counseling or relaxation training may also be prescribed to help improve the patient’s condition.