What is Oral & Facial Pain?
Oral and Facial Pain/Orofacial Pain Conditions
Oral and facial pain refers to pain conditions that are felt in the mouth, jaw, face, temples, eyes, or ears. The conditions can range from:
- Neuropathic (nerve) pain
- Musculoskeletal (muscle and joints) pain
- Neurovascular (a headache) pain
Neuropathic pain conditions includes trigeminal neuralgia, burning mouth syndrome and other neuropathies of the face and mouth. Some patients develop neuropathies after a simple benign dental procedure, or a surgical procedure such as a tooth extraction or dental implant placement.
Musculoskeletal pain includes all the conditions that affect the muscle and joints od the face and head, such as myofascial pain and TMJ pain.
Neurovascular pain includes conditions such as tension-type headaches, migraines, and autonomic cephalgias. These “headache” conditions can actually affect the face and mouth since they are innervated by the same nerve that is involved in headaches, the trigeminal nerve. Autonomic cephalgias are further divided into specific conditions such as cluster headaches, hemicrania continua, paroxysmal hemicrania, and SUNCT. If you’re curious to learn more, you can find more detailed explanations of these conditions on our other website pages.
Due to the wide range of conditions and complexity of conditions that can be the source of your facial pain, we recommend an evaluation by a fellowship-trained and board-certified orofacial pain specialist.
What are treatment options to obtain relief from oral and facial pain?
Treatment needs to be targeted towards the actual source of the pain. Once an accurate diagnosis has been established for the orofacial pain condition, treatment options can range from:
- Nerve blocks of the different branches of the trigeminal nerve
- Sphenopalatine ganglion blocks
- Trigger point injections of muscles (such as trigger point muscle injections, nerve blocks, and botox®)
- Medications (prescription nerve pain medications, muscle relaxants, etc.)
- Prescription formulated topical creams and rinses
How are orofacial pain conditions diagnosed?
Orofacial pain conditions require a thorough history, clinical examination, and additional diagnostic testing. During the clinical examination, the cranial nerves and physical structures will be assessed. A fellowship-trained and board-certified orofacial pain clinician, such as Dr. Bakhtiari, specializes in assessing these conditions. Based on those findings, Dr. Bakhtiari will request additional diagnostic tests (blood tests, brain MRI, face MRI, maxillofacial CT, head CT, x-rays of the jaw, etc.), or collaborate closely with a medical specialist (ENT, neurologist, rheumatologist, pain physician, etc.) to find the right treatment for you.