A guide to help you with pain in your face

November 12, 2014

With the discomfort caused to jaws, head and face, orofacial pain can become a debilitating condition that needs to be addressed by your dentist.
Orofacial discomfort is a pain in the face — literally.

It can actually refer to a variety of unpleasant physical sensations involving the muscles, bones or joints of the face and mouth. Common symptoms of orofacial pain include a dull or sharp pain around or behind the eyes, a deep jaw ache, clicking or locking of the jaw, headaches that won’t go away, and pain while chewing, speaking or swallowing.

If you're experiencing any of these symptoms — alone or acting as part of a suite of misery — then a trip to the dentist is in order. While the majority of orofacial pain comes from dental problems, such as a toothache or dental abscess, another source is temporomandibular joint (TMJ) dysfunction, an umbrella term that covers pain and dysfunction of the muscles that move the jaw and the joints that connect the mandible to the skull.
Main causes
While there are many causes of orofacial pain, here are some of the main ones:

  • Migraine headaches
  • Grinding or clenching of the teeth
  • Involuntary muscle spasms in the head, jaw or neck
  • Post-surgery complications
  • Missing teeth
  • Uneven bite
  • Excessive tooth decay or gum disease, resulting in bone loss
  • Face or jaw injuries

Stop jawin’
Problems with the TMJ can include joint discomfort, muscle spasms in the head, neck and jaw, migraines, cluster or frequent headaches, or pain with the teeth, face or jaw.

The typical person swallows about 2,000 times per day, causing the upper and lower teeth to come together and push against the skull. Anyone with an unstable bite, missing teeth or poorly aligned teeth can have trouble because the muscles strain to bring the teeth together.

As a result, some people may feel pain in the ears, eyes, sinuses, cheeks or side of the head, while others experience clicking when moving the jaw or even locking if the jaw is opened or closed.
Go to a dentist
Over time orofacial pain can become a debilitating condition that can wither your enjoyment of life. You need to go to a dentist for treatment that will be determined by the particular cause of your condition.

Here are some of the questions your dentist will ask you about:

  • Where it hurts, and whether the pain is localized or diffused
  • The character of the pain — whether it is sharp, dull, aching, throbbing or shooting — and its severity
  • The frequency and duration of the painful episodes
  • Precipitating and aggravating factors, as well as things that give you relief
  • Associated features, such as a swollen face in dental abscesses, or vomiting from migraines

Once the problem is successfully treated, your face can go back to causing joy instead of pain.

A guide to help you with pain in your face
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