Oral surgeons can diagnose facial pain in addition to their expertise in dental implants, wisdom teeth removal, and corrective surgery. Understanding the training of an oral surgeon and how they apply their training to diagnose and treat facial pain will make a patient’s decision to consult an oral surgeon easier.
Oral Surgeons are Expertly Trained
Oral and Maxillofacial surgeons are dental specialists who treat conditions, defects, and injuries of the mouth, teeth, jaws, and face. In addition to a four year graduate degree in dentistry, oral surgeons have completed a minimum four year hospital surgical residency program. This specialized training extends their competency to include the diagnosis and treatment of facial pain disorders and nerve injuries.
The Diagnostic Process
Oral and Maxillofacial surgeons can diagnose facial pain by combining several diagnostic tools to provide a complete picture of the patient’s problem. This process includes carefully listening to the patient’s description of the problem, a detailed clinical exam, and imaging studies if necessary. Imaging studies can include xrays, MRI, or CT scans to ensure an accurate diagnosis. After the oral surgeon has diagnosed the cause of the facial pain, an individualized treatment plan is designed.
The Treatment Phase
A qualified oral surgeon will prescribe an appropriate treatment plan, perform procedures and surgeries as needed, and educate the patient in effective self-management strategies.
Common causes of facial pain include TMJ (temporomandibular joint) disorders. The TMJ, or jaw joint, is a complex joint capable of hinging and sliding movements. Disorders of the TMJ can cause pain in the head or neck, tension or migraine-like headaches, a clicking sound, and difficulty opening and closing the jaw.
Treatment for this condition can range from conservative measures like rest and anti-inflammatory medication, to surgical intervention if necessary. The goal of the initial treatment is to alleviate symptoms of pain and spasm. Oral surgeons are trained to prescribe the most appropriate treatment for TMJ disorders.
The benefit of seeing an oral and maxillofacial surgeon for facial pain over other practitioners is that a highly trained oral surgeon can see the patient through the whole process, from diagnosis through treatment. In rare cases where surgery is necessary, the patient will maintain consistent care with the same specialist when they chose an oral surgeon from the beginning.
If you are in need of help with facial pain and you live in the Salt Lake City area, contact Oral and Maxillofacial Surgery of Utah. Our highly trained team of oral surgeons can diagnose facial pain and create a personalized treatment plan to remedy the problem and help you heal.