Treatment for Patients with Orofacial Pain

Improve your quality of life with the help of our specialist in orofacial pain. Schedule an appointment at the Clinica Dental Gil San Pedro or at the Clinica Dental Gil Escazu.

Schedule your appointment

What is orofacial pain?

The International Association for the Study of Pain (IASP) defines orofacial pain as a frequent type of pain perceived in the face and/or the oral cavity. Its cause is associated with distinct illnesses or disorders, including nervous system disfunction. It is caused by one or more factors.

Orofacial pain originates in the orofacial region and causes discomfort in specific areas of the face. In general, orofacial pain is a combination of mouth pain and facial pain. When a diagnosis is made, the presence of other related disorders may be evident. These disorders include: 

Types of orofacial pain:

When diagnosing orofacial pain, there are diseases or disorders that can cause it. 

Because orofacial pain can be caused by one or several different conditions, it is important to know the types of orofacial pain that can cause the condition:

What are the symptoms of orofacial pain?

The most common symptoms of orofacial pain occur in the orofacial region, more specifically in the facial and oral area. These can be:

  • Mild or moderate headaches
  • Migraine headaches
  • Jaw pain
  • Sensation of pain in the teeth, although it does not originate in the teeth
  • Popping or cracking noises when opening or closing the mouth.
  • Difficulty opening or closing the mouth
  • Teeth in poor condition
  • Mandibular fracture or dislocation

It is important to point out that orofacial pain can be caused by several different conditions.  Furthermore, there are some patients who have nonspecific symptoms such as:

  • Dizziness
  • Tinnitus
  • Nasal congestion

Risk factors

The risk factors associated with orofacial pain can develop as a result of different factors. Some of these are: 

  • Facial lesions. If the patient has suffered from (or is suffering from) a lesion in any part of the facial region, there is a higher risk of experiencing orofacial pain.
  • Age. It has been shown that orofacial pain is more common is young people and adults although it is also prevalent in people who suffer from a related condition such as bruxism, for example. 
  • Sex. Women are more prone than men to suffer from orofacial pain.
  • Poor habits.  Some of the habits that can increase a person’s risk of suffering from orofacial pain are nail biting and teeth clenching.
  • Muscular tension. Frequent or chronic muscle stiffness can fatigue the orofacial región and cause pain. 
  • Mental health. Anxiety and/or depression are psychological pathologies that have been shown to be present in patients who suffer from orofacial pain.
  • Stress. Stress not only promotes muscular tension, but it also can trigger other conditions that worsen orofacial pain such as bruxism or temporomandibular disorders.

How is orofacial pain diagnosed?

Orofacial pain can be diagnosed once a specialist has completed an exhaustive evaluation of the symptoms present in the orofacial region. 

It is important to conduct a complete examination of the patient in order to obtain an accurate diagnosis. A medical exam should include the following:

  1. A detailed review of the patient’s medical and dental history.
  2. A complete analysis and interpretation of the symptoms presented.
  3. A careful observation of the social and psychological factors related to the condition.
  4. A physical exam in the areas where pain is present: the head, neck, cranial nerves, muscles and joints of the jaw and mouth.
  5. Testing that includes x-rays, CT scans, magnetic resonance, lab tests, diagnostic injections, and others.

It is important to point out that in order to receive an accurate diagnosis, it is vital to seek out a dentist who is specialized in orofacial pain like those at the Clinica Gil.  

Our orofacial pain specialists are trained in distinct areas of medicine, including neurology, psychology and physiotherapy. They are qualified to diagnose, manage and treat any condition associated with the orofacial zone, including disorders such as bruxism, orofacial neuropathic pain, etc.

Schedule your appointment

Treatments for orofacial pain

Due to the high incidence and widespread prevalence of orofacial pain today, a wide variety of treatment options exist. 

The treatments for orofacial pain include a variety of methods, including pharmacological agents and dental alternatives. 

Non-pharmacological treatments include:

  • Muscular therapy
  • Infiltration or trigger zone punctures
  • Identification of contributing habits
  • Behavior modification
  • Self care intervention
  • Relaxation of the masticatory muscles
  • Cognitive and/or behavioral self-regulation
  • Use of intraoral appliances that stabilize the mandible

It is important to point out that in cases of chronic orofacial pain that has been present for over 12 weeks, the orofacial pain specialist will need to treat the symptoms with different pharmacotherapy, including physical therapy or by identifying one or more disorders that can worsen the diagnosis.

Frequently asked questions regarding orofacial pain

What is the orofacial region?

The orofacial region is located in the lower part of the face, between the eyebrows and the chin. Therefore, the symptoms of orofacial pain disorder can include dental pain, migraine headaches that are focused on the mid region of the face, muscular pain and ear pain (which can also be caused by temporomandibular joint dysfunction). 

What should I do if I have orofacial pain?

In order to avoid complications and receive an accurate diagnosis and effective treatment, you should schedule an appointment with a specialist in orofacial pain.  

Who is at a higher risk to develop orofacial pain?

People between 20 and 50 years of age are more likely to suffer from orofacial pain. Additionally, there is a higher risk of the disorder in women than in men. 

Schedule an appointment with our experts in orofacial pain and receive the attention you need!

Written by: Grupo Gil Dental 

Revisado por: Dr. Andrés Cervantes

Published on: 26 february, 2024