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Dealing with facial discomfort

Facial discomfort can be debilitating and frustrating. It can affect your ability to chew, eat and speak, and in severe cases impact your overall wellbeing. If your face has been sore or achy for no apparent reason, here is a simple plan of attack to get you back to feeling yourself again.

Get examined

The first step is to receive a thorough examination from a dentist or oral surgeon. Depending on your symptoms, this may include a visual inspection or the use of x-rays and other imaging technology.

Never presume you know where the problem is coming from, facial discomfort doesn’t always present in the exact location of the problem.

The most common causes

There are four distinct categories of conditions that commonly cause facial discomfort:

  • Dental problems relate to soreness caused by issues with the teeth and gums, from overcrowding to infection, impacted wisdom teeth, cavities, cracks and malocclusions (an improperly aligned bite)
  • Neuralgia relates to conditions that impact your nerves–nerve damage is often caused by previous facial trauma or injury
  • TMJ disorder stems from problems with your jaw muscles and temporomandibular joint
  • Challenges with blood vessels and blood flow

Depending on the diagnosis, your dentist will either recommend treatment options or refer you to a specialist. TMJ disorder, impacted wisdom teeth, and malocclusions are conditions commonly treated by an oral surgeon.

Treating malocclusions

Malocclusions, also known as a “bad bite”, can many times be corrected using a combination of orthodontics and restorative dentistry. When these techniques do not adequately resolve the issue, oral surgery may be necessary in order to realign the jaw bones and address abnormalities.

TMJ disorder

Symptoms of a TMJ disorder can include stiffness in the jaw muscles, discomfort that radiates to the face, head, or neck, jaw locking, difficulty opening and closing the mouth and clicking, popping, or grinding when moving the jaw. Depending on the severity, treatment options include pain medication, anti-stress therapy and wearing a splint or mouth guard.