Orofacial pain is classified as any discomfort in the jaw, neck, head, gums, ears or teeth.
It doesn’t present itself the same way in every case — some patients may have a dull ache while others may suffer from sharp, shooting pains. If you have orofacial pain and you don’t know why, look to the following four common culprits for answers.
1. TMJ Disorder
Your temporomandibular joint (TMJ) plays an important role: It’s what connects your lower jaw to your skull, and it facilitates talking, chewing and swallowing — all the jaw movements that you subconsciously make every day.
TMJ disorder prevents the joint from functioning the way it should. Your jaw might lock up, or you might find it difficult or impossible to chew and swallow. On average, you swallow about 2,000 times per day, so if you have TMJ disorder, you probably feel constant orofacial pain.
2. Recent Dental Work
Since orofacial pain includes all discomfort of the teeth and gums, any recent dental work, or the need for dental work, could cause your pain. If you’ve had or need a root canal, are suffering from periodontal disease or have recently had a tooth extraction, you may be uncomfortable until the area has time to heal.
If you have orofacial pain after dental work and it does not go away within the prescribed healing time, call your dentist. Constant discomfort could mean an infection.
3. Facial Trauma
Have you been in an accident? Have you had facial trauma of any kind? If you have bone fractures in your face or jaw, you need immediate treatment. Visit the emergency room for X-rays and a professional diagnosis. Doctors will be able to quickly determine the extent of the trauma and whether surgery is necessary.
4. Repetitive Muscle Strain
If something is out of alignment, like your jaw, repetitively working the muscles in that area puts intense strain on the associated joints and muscles. Once the muscles are strained, it is difficult for them to heal if they continue to be used in a detrimental way. Talk to your dentist, orthodontist or oral surgeon about your jaw alignment and find out how to treat improperly functioning muscles.
Get a Consultation Today
If you’re living with orofacial pain, you know it’s nearly impossible to continue functioning normally in the face of this type of discomfort. You need relief. Talk to Northeast Oral & Maxillofacial Surgery to schedule a consultation, and get a reprieve from pain as soon as possible.