When you imagine oral health issues, you probably think of cavities or gum disease. These dental conditions can be quite uncomfortable and are unfortunately widespread. However, what you may not realize is that other types of orofacial pain are just as common. At MedCenter TMJ, we use advanced technology and compassionate care to help our patients deal with TMD (temporomandibular joint disorder, which affects the tissues that link your temples to your lower jaw) and related issues. Dr. Ronald C. Auvenshine, Dr. Nathan Pettit, and the rest of our experienced team help patients lead healthier, happier lives by making accurate diagnoses and providing outstanding treatment. If you’re not familiar with orofacial pain, you might suffer from it without ever realizing the true source of your symptoms. In the following blog, we go over the basics of orofacial pain and explain how we can help with dentistry beyond the teeth and gums.
What a Recent Study Revealed
Just last month, the esteemed Journal of the American Dental Association® published a groundbreaking article on orofacial pain. Its results shocked many patients and professionals, but our team was not at all surprised. The authors (Drs. Orapin V. Horst, Joana Cunha-Cruz, Lingmei Zhou, Walter Manning, Lloyd Manci, and Timothy A. DeRouen) sampled nearly 1,700 patients at 100 general dentistry practices throughout the northwestern United States.
They discovered that:
- “One in 6 patients visiting a general dentist had experienced orofacial pain during the past year.” Although they might not have a clear name for it or recognize it as a dental issue, a fair portion of patients does experience orofacial issues.
- Of the 16.1 percent of patients with orofacial pain, the two most common types were dentoalveolar (referring to the bones that hold the teeth in place), reported by 9.1 percent of patients, and musculoligamentous (relating to the oral muscles and ligaments surrounding the mouth), reported by 6.6 percent of patients.
- Older patients were less likely to experience dentoalveolar pain: “When comparing the 18- to 29-year-old patients, dentoalveolar pain decreased significanty in 45-to-64-year-old patients.”
- Dentoalveolar pain was more prevalent “in patients who did not receive dental maintenance,” while “women were more likely to have muscololigamentous pain.”
Ultimately, as a result of this investigation, the authors concluded: “pain in the muscles and temporomandibular joints was reported as frequently as that in the teeth and surrounding tissues in patients visiting general dentists.” Given this finding, they urged dental practitioners to become educated in orofacial conditions. At MedCenter TMJ, our doctors already practice dentistry with a focus on these types of issues.
Now that you know more about it, you might find yourself wondering: “what exactly is orofacial pain?” Typically, our doctors explain that you might suffer from TMD or a similar condition if you:
- Often experience headaches
- Have tinnitus (ringing in the ears) or frequent earaches
- Suffer from pain in your temple regions, jaw joints, back, shoulders, or neck
- Have trouble opening, closing, or moving your jaw
- Have jaws that click, scrape, or pop when you move them
- Are dizzy on a regular basis
While you might not think of these as the usual dental symptoms, the above study indicates that they are just as common as more “typical” oral health issues. In addition, Clinical Key reports: “40-70/1000 people” suffer from TMD, although some signs and symptoms are present in about half of the population (particularly jaw sounds).”
Do You Suffer From Orofacial Pain?
If you do, you’re certainly not alone, nor are you without treatment options. MedCenter TMJ’s doctors are ahead of the curve—we already treat symptoms that many aren’t even fully aware of. Contact us today to learn more about orofacial pain or schedule an appointment.