If you experience unexplained toothaches or facial pain that continue even after treatment from physicians and dentists, you may be affected by Neuropathic Orofacial Pain Disorders. This complex group of disorders is often difficult to diagnose and misunderstood by medical professionals. Hardin Valley dentist Dr. Pamela Cain has studied an advanced and comprehensive program on Orofacial Pain and Temporomandibular disorders (TMD) with Dr. Jeffrey Okeson at the University of Kentucky in Lexington.
What is Orofacial Pain?
Orofacial pain is extremely frustrating for patients, the pain from these disorders is often chronic and originates from the brain and nerves of the head, face, and neck. In the past, patients were told their pain was simply psychological. Research now shows that there are usually physical origins for the pain and when properly diagnosed by a trained clinician, effective treatment can be reached.
Treatment for orofacial pain is specific to the individual. After a careful review of the patient’s medical and dental history, physical examination, and diagnostic tests, Dr. Cain will make a diagnosis and recommend a treatment strategy. Depending on the complexity of the problem, one or several treatments may be attempted before an effective approach is found. Dr. Cain may also take an “interdisciplinary approach”, which could involve medical professionals in other areas of expertise, working together.
What are Temporomandibular Joint Disorders (TMD)?
Temporomandibular Joint Disorders, commonly known among patients as TMJ, is a complex group of disorders similar to orofacial pain. TMD is often characterized by chronic pain and limited mobility in the jaw. Few medical professionals have experience treating these difficult disorders. Dr. Cain has focused much of her postgraduate training on TMJ therapy which includes diagnosing and treating TMJ disorders.
There is no single cause for TMJ disorders. There are a number of factors that contribute to this complicated condition. Most commonly, trauma to the head or face is to blame for TMJ problems.
Signs and symptoms of TMJ disorders may include:
- Teeth grinding
- Frequent headaches or migraine headaches
- Pain in the face, neck, or shoulders
- Popping or clicking in the jaw joints
- Tooth wear
- Chronic earaches
TMJ disorders can put limits on your quality of life. A proper diagnosis is essential for creating a successful treatment plan to relieve symptoms and correct instability. Dr. Cain will begin with a thorough evaluation, aided by the latest technology to accurately analyze your bite and jaw joints. From her findings, Dr. Cain will recommend the most conservative approach to solve your problem. Treatment can range from a minor adjustment to the bite, a mouth guard or splint or in complex cases, a combination of procedures and therapies may be needed.
Do You Need a Bite Analysis?
Patients with orofacial pain and TMJ dysfunction often suffer from malocclusion, better known as a “bad bite”. Malocclusion can lead to a host of problems including facial pain and tooth wear. Dr. Pamela Cain performs a full bite analysis on new patients to look for signs and symptoms of malocclusion. One of the technologies that we have incorporated into our practice to assist with this examination is the T-Scan, which is a hand-held digital device that measures both the timing and the force of the bite to look for areas of imbalance.
Orthodontics for Bite Disorders
Dr. Cain is a Knoxville area Invisalign provider and also offers Six Month Smiles. Both options use clear aligners or clear brackets to treat orthodontic concerns with shorter, more comfortable and discreet treatment. Invisible braces are often a great solution for adult patients who can benefit from orthodontic treatment but do not want the embarrassment of tradtitional metal braces.
Dr. Cain may recommend short-term orthodontic treatment to address crooked teeth or malocclusion that is impacting the fit and function of the bite. Crooked teeth are not only more prone to damage and decay, but they can also increase muscle tension in the jaw by preventing the teeth from making proper contact when biting. Straightening your teeth and realigning the bite will reduce overall discomfort, improve dental health and give you a beautiful new smile.
DTR: Comprehensive Treatment for TMJ
Dr. Cain has focused her postgraduate training on the diagnosis and treatment of occlusal related disorders, including TMJ. When your bite is uneven or out of alignment due to dysfunction in the jaw joint, it can affect all aspects of your dental health. TMJ related disorders can also cause pain and headaches, diminishing your daily quality of life. Using advanced tools to analyze the bite and muscle function of the jaw and neck, Dr. Cain identifies the underlying cause of your pain and dysfunction for treatment that will be lasting.
Disclusion Time Reduction (DTR) uses Tekscan digital analysis tools to measure the biting forces on each individual tooth as well as the muscle function and pressure placed on the jaw joints. Dr. Cain has been trained by leaders in the field of Orofacial Pain and can offer patients who suffer from the common symptoms, such as recurring headaches, effective diagnosis, and treatment that goes beyond a symptomatic approach, addressing dysfunction. Your personal treatment plan will be designed to both relieve your pain and restore a healthy, balanced and comfortable bite. This will also serve to reduce the risk of further damage to the teeth and gums.
Schedule An Appointment
Ready to get back a smile that feels as good as it looks? The first step is to schedule a consultation with Dr. Cain in our Knoxville dentist office. She will take the time to get to know you, understand your concerns and thoroughly examine all aspects of your oral health. Contact us at (865) 219-3622, or schedule an appointment request online.