Chronic oral pain, or chronic orofacial pain, is pain in the mouth or lower facial area that persists for more than three months and is estimated to affect up to 7% of the population at any time.
Certain types of orofacial pain are more common than others, such as toothache, gum disease, and pain in the temporomandibular joint (TMJ). But the term can refer to any pain in the mouth or lower face region, which means it can be caused by issues in the bones, nerves, muscles, ligaments, or other structures of the face.
Treatment Options for Chronic Orofacial Pain
Depending on the underlying cause, there are many treatment options available for chronic orofacial pain. Dentists can treat toothache, periodontists can treat gum disease, and specialists in TMJ dysfunction (like us) can use oral appliances or other orthodontic treatment to help heal the jaw joint.
Other types of treatments we’ve had success with in our practice include:
Cold laser, the use of a “cold”, or non-burning, laser to reduce pain and inflammation
Electro therapeutic point stimulation (ETPS), an alternative medicine therapy which involves applying a small electrical current to acupuncture distal points to unblock chi (Qi) and reduce pain
Acupressure, the use of massage on particular points of the body to help relax muscles
Injections of lidocaine or something similar every six to nine months to provide long-term pain relief
Chiropractic, which involves manipulation of the spine to relieve pain
Myofunctional Therapy, a series of exercise of the facial muscles that can relieve pain caused by TMD
Nutritional Supplements, such as magnesium for nerve pain and muscle relaxing
Getting Help for Chronic Oral Pain
Because the pain is in the mouth, people experiencing chronic orofacial pain often don’t know whether to see a doctor or a dentist about it. However, it’s important to see someone who is trained in treating chronic pain of the mouth and lower face, as not all doctors and dentists can accurately recognize and treat it.
Chronic pain is something close to our hearts. Dr. Lynn suffered chronic pain resulting from TMJ dysfunction which put her on the path to focus on craniofacial pain, facial development, orthodontics, and related areas. Dr. Ed studied chronic pain along with TMJ dysfunction. This has put the two of us in the position to be able to help many people with their chronic pain via dental and orthodontic treatment. If you’re in the Chicago area and you’re looking for relief for your chronic oral pain, come see us.