Pain in the jaw, face and head can be caused by dental pathology (tooth and gum infections, fractured teeth and occluso-muscle disorder), and a skilled dentist can treat all of these. Pain caused by headaches and other pathology need to be treated by the appropriate health care provider such as neurologists, chiropractors and so on.
Myofascial pain is a unique type of pain caused by a muscle spasm or trigger point and can occur throughout the body. Myofascial pain in the face, jaw muscles and head can be caused by trigger points in the jaw muscles caused by occluso-muscle disorder. A unique fact about trigger points is that they refer pain to areas away from the actual muscle spasm or trigger point.Trigger points in the neck and shoulders can also refer pain to the jaw, head and face.
What is a trigger point?
The diagram below shows some examples of trigger points. The "X" is the location of the trigger point and the red area shows where the pain is expressed. There are many trigger points besides the ones that are shown here.
If our initial bite therapy (use of our temporary bite guard called a deprogrammer) does not completely eliminate pain in the head, face and jaw muscles, then we recommend physical therapy to address trigger points beyond the jaw muscles.
(The following are the instructions for our patients who are currently using a temporary deprogrammer and still have some pain.
1) Each day perform the neck stretching and exercises per the 2 very short videos below.
2) Do the stretches and exercises for at least 2 weeks while continuing to where your temporary deprogrammer.)
(Perform these stretches as per the video instructor.)
(Instead of holding for 3 seconds as the video describes, hold for 10 seconds.
Do 2 reps of each isometric exercise twice each day.)
*Note: There are many therapies that can treat trigger points in the short-run (acupuncture, injections, message, etc.). However, long-term treatment requires the following:
1) A balanced bite (if some or all of your symptoms are caused by occluso-muscle
disorder (an unbalanced bite)).
2) Muscle stretching on a regular basis.
3) Muscle strengthening (exercise).
If symptoms persist after our initial bite therapy and the simple stretching and strengthening exercises above then we recommend treatment by a physical therapist.