What is Orofacial Pain?

Orofacial pain covers a number of different kinds of discomfort involving the head, face, jaw, neck and teeth. For example, misaligned or missing teeth cause the muscles around the mouth and jaw to work harder when chewing and swallowing. Clenching and grinding the teeth also can literally create a “pain in the neck” and head. So how do you know if dental complications are causing your orofacial pain? Here are some common issues often caused by dental issues seen at the Placerville Dental Group.

Temporomandibular Joints

The National Institutes of Health estimates that 5 to 10 percent of Americans have temporomandibular joint (TMJ) problems, that is problems affecting the jaw joint and/or muscles. These joints are located where the skull connects to your lower jaw. To feel these joints, place your fingers in front of both ears, then open and close your mouth. Many patients with TMJ pain also report clicking when opening and closing their mouth or when chewing food. Some studies have also reported women between twenty and forty years of age may be more likely to suffer from TMJ syndrome due to fluctuating hormone levels.


Headaches are common, as we’ve all had one at some point. Many headaches are caused by muscle tension and may be related to a person clenching and grinding their teeth. If you get frequent headaches, it could be related to your dental health. Symptoms of a dental connection include:

  • Pain behind the eyes,
  • Sore or “tired” jaw muscles upon awakening,
  • Teeth grinding,
  • Jaw clenching,
  • Clicking or popping of the jaw,
  • Scalp is sensitive and painful to the touch,
  • Earache or ringing in the ears,
  • Neck, shoulder or back pain, along with tension.

If you have recurring headaches, our dentist may discern a dental cause during your semi-annual exam and cleaning. Speak with us about it to include it in your regular dental checkup.

Sleep Disorders

If you have gone through treatment for pain and still experience symptoms, you may have a sleep disorder, such as bruxism, or sleep apnea. Bruxism is the technical term for teeth grinding. Sleep apnea happens when the tissues and muscles in the back of the throat close off the airway. People with untreated sleep apnea stop breathing repeatedly during their sleep, sometimes hundreds of times during the night and often for a minute or longer. Fatigue during the day, even after a “good night’s sleep” is a symptom that should be checked by your doctor or Placerville dentist.

Treatment for Orofacial Pain

Our Placerville dentists have variety of treatments to reduce or eliminate your orofacial pain. We perform a complete exam and consult with you about the best course of treatment to correct the problem. A medical and dental history determines if any trauma has occurred in the facial area. “Less is more” is often a good principle to follow in pain management and simple corrections, such as the use of a custom mouthguard, can often result in significant improvements. Permanent correction may require orthodontics or oral surgery. Our Placerville dental clinic is conveniently located downtown, so call us to make an appointment today and start to make the pain go away.

Jul 6, 2017 | Oral Health, Oral Surgery


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