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What is Orofacial Pain?

Pain perceived in the mouth, jaw, head, neck, and face can be a problem for a lot of people.

22% of the general population suffers from at least one of six types of orofacial pain.

Obviously, disease or fractures of the teeth and gums are the most common source of orofacial pain, but many other types of pain can actually cause “dental” pain. Chronic orofacial pain can significantly reduce the quality of life and is very difficult to manage in many situations. An orofacial pain specialist, like Dr. Huff, is trained in the diagnosis and management of acute dental pain and disease as well as orofacial pain that is not of tooth origin. Orofacial pain specialists also assess the need for multidisciplinary management of chronic pain conditions, and Dr. Huff strives to work with various professionals in the medical and dental communities through collaboration and appropriate referrals to provide the best possible care for orofacial pain conditions.

Requirements of an Orofacial Pain Specialist

To become an orofacial pain specialist, Dr. Huff has taken many hours of continuing education from various programs, including courses from Louisiana State University, the University of Minnesota, Rutgers University, and UCLA. Having passed a rigorous two-part psychometric examination covering the gamut of orofacial pain conditions, causes, and treatments, Dr. Huff has earned the status of Diplomate from the American Board of Orofacial Pain. Orofacial Pain is a recognized specialty by the American Dental Association.

What really is TMJ/TMD and how can Dr. Huff help these patients?

The Orofacial Pain Specialty encompasses seven areas of focus::

  • Musculoskeletal disorders, including temporomandibular joint (“TMJ”) disorders
  • Neurovascular pain, including primary headaches like migraines and trigeminal autonomic cephalgias (TACs)
  • Neuropathic pain, including trigeminal and glossopharyngeal neuralgia, post-traumatic trigeminal neuralgia, and persistent dentoalveolar pain (previously called atypical odontalgia)
  • Neuromuscular pain, including muscle pain of the jaws, head, and neck
  • Sleep disorders, including oral appliance therapy for obstructive sleep apnea
  • Psychological factors contributing to chronic pain conditions, which often involve collaboration with psychiatrists and counselors
  • Tooth and gum pain (Dentalgia)

Most commonly, 11.2-12.4 million adults in the United States have pain related to temporomandibular disorders.  An individual may have more than one TMD and may also have overlapping conditions, such as migraines, fibromyalgia, and other forms of widespread pain. Orofacial pain has varying causes (injury, genetics, and environmental factors), affect different body systems, and pose different health and quality of life issues, care can involve multiple disciplines.

Currently, Orofacial Pain is the only ADA-recognized specialty that specifically addresses the management of sleep-disordered breathing.

The Biopsychosocial Model of Care: Where is the pain coming from?

For those who are struggling with chronic pain that has been difficult to identify and treat, Dr. Huff may be able to help identify the real cause and provide a path for treatment and rehabilitation.

While Dr. Huff is an orofacial pain specialist, he also practices general dentistry. However, those suffering from orofacial pain who also have a regular dentist are welcome to come to Dr. Huff for their orofacial pain only; Dr. Huff will collaborate with their regular dentist to determine the most appropriate care for their individual needs. Contact us today for a consultation.

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