Orofacial pain disorders are complicated and hard to diagnose. As a result, many sufferers go undiagnosed, or sometimes are even told by doctors that their pain is not real. To avoid the situation where real pain goes undiagnosed, untreated, or even unacknowledged, it’s important to spread word about the condition.
To help promote awareness, the International Association for the Study of Pain (IASP) has launched its “Year against Facial Pain.”
What Is Orofacial Pain?
Orofacial pain is a spectrum of disorders that cause pain in the mouth or face. It includes TMJ, but also extends to many overlapping conditions, including:
- Neurovascular orofacial pain–when blood vessel anomalies cause pain, including migraines
- Persistent dento-alveolar pain disorder–when you have mysterious pain in teeth and jaw
- Dental pain–pain caused by decay or injury to tooth. May be referred to nearby regions.
- Burning mouth syndrome–persistent pain in the mucous membranes that isn’t due to identifiable causes
- Persistent idiopathic facial pain–unexplained facial pain
- Glossopharyngeal neuralgia–sharp, electric pains that occur in the region of the base of the ear, the tonsils, the base of the tongue
- Trigeminal neuralgia–sharp, electric pains that occur anywhere the trigeminal nerve serves, which is basically the entire face
All of these conditions can result in significant chronic pain, and some of them are not currently treatable.
How You Can Help
In order to promote awareness of facial pain, the IASP has scheduled numerous events around the world. However, there are things you can do to promote awareness in your area, such as:
Invite a dentist or other doctor involved in facial pain diagnosis and treatment to speak to a group
Make sure your doctor understands the full spectrum of orofacial pain and is open to talking to patients about it
Support research into the causes and treatment of orofacial pain.
Contact your Congressmen and let them know you support funding for research
Share this blog and other resources about orofacial pain on social media
But the most important thing you can do is talk to people who suffer from orofacial pain about their disorder. Encourage them to talk to their doctor about their pain. If they have talked to their doctor but haven’t gotten help, encourage them to talk to a dentist.
At Collins Dentistry & Aesthetics, we are dedicated to ensuring that all patients receive the treatment they need for pain and are prepared to listen to your description of symptoms so we can help you identify the cause to recommend appropriate treatment.
Please contact us today for an appointment at our office in Spokane or Spokane Valley.