Orofacial pain includes pain associated with joints, muscles and nerves anywhere in the head, neck, face, mouth, gums or teeth. Some people experience pain in the ears, eyes, sinuses, cheecks or side of the head, while others have dystonias (involuntary muscle contractions), clicking when moving the jaw or locking of the jaw. One of the most common causes of orofacial pain is persisting neuropathic (nerve) pain, which can develop following surgery, dental treatment or facial surgery. It can also be caused by clenching or griding teeth, trauma to the head and neck, poor ergonomics, an underlying medical condition (such as multiple sclerosis), cancer or infection.
People with dental problems are most at risk of orofacial pain. It is important to rectify major concerns such an unstable bite, missing teeth or poorly aligned teeth, because the muscles work harder to bring teeth together, causing strain. Specific medications and surgery can also help, and there are new biotechnology approaches being developed, through the use of the patients’ own stem cells. Multidisciplinary pain management combined with self-management will also be important.