Orofacial pain is more common than you may realize. Many people suffer from pain in the face, neck and mouth. For some, conservative treatments are effective. For others, oral surgery is the solution.
The decision on how to treat orofacial pain is made on a case-by-case basis, after a thorough assessment and diagnostic evaluation. Pain relief is the immediate goal, but oral surgery may be necessary to correct the underlying cause and prevent the problem from returning.
Causes of Orofacial Pain
Pain in the orofacial region may be a dull, constant ache, a sharp stabbing sensation or any combination of the two. Some patients also experience headaches, discomfort when chewing or swallowing, muscle soreness and clicking, popping or locking of the jaw joint.
What causes these symptoms? A number of issues may be to blame, including:
- Bruxism, or grinding and clenching of the teeth
- Missing teeth or tooth misalignment
- Injury or trauma to the face, neck or jaw
- Temporomandibular joint (TMJ) disorder
- Facial nerve disorders, such as trigeminal neuralgia
Conservative Treatments for Orofacial Pain
Before considering oral surgery to relieve facial pain, most patients are advised to try less-invasive treatment options.
In many cases, conservative measures can effectively alleviate symptoms and preclude the need for surgical treatment. Depending upon the source of the problem, patients may find relief through:
- An oral appliance, such as a stabilization splint or mouthguard
- Gentle jaw stretches and facial relaxation exercises
- Over-the-counter pain medication, along with ice and heat application
- Prescription muscle relaxants or medication for inflammation
Alternative therapies — including trigger-point injections, transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation (TENS), acupuncture and biofeedback — are also effective for some patients with facial pain.
Orofacial Pain Treatment Through Oral Surgery
Experts agree that surgical treatment should be a last resort for facial pain. However, when conservative treatments fail to provide symptomatic relief and the pain prevents patients from enjoying their lives to the fullest, it may be time to consider oral surgery.
For debilitating orofacial pain, oral surgeons may recommend one of the following procedures:
- Orthognathic surgery to correct bite problems and issues with tooth misalignment
- Arthrocentesis to flush the temporomandibular joint
- Arthroscopy to remove excess joint tissue and realign the jaw
- Arthroplasty to correct structural problems within the joint
Other oral surgery procedures, including facial fracture repair and tooth extraction, may be appropriate for some patients. In addition, surgical treatment plans may include orthodontic care.
The orofacial pain specialists at Oral & Maxillofacial Surgery of Utah are experts in treating a wide range of oral, facial and jaw-related conditions. If you’re suffering from acute or chronic pain and you live in the greater Salt Lake City area, we can help get you on the road to relief.
For more information about Oral & Maxillofacial Surgery of Utah, or to schedule a consultation to discuss conservative treatments and oral surgery options for relieving orofacial pain, contact our Cottonwood Heights, South Jordan or Tooele office today.