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. Trigger points in the neck and shoulders can also refer pain to the jaw, head and face.
What is a trigger point?
A unique fact about trigger points is that they refer pain to areas away from the actual muscle spasm or trigger point.Trigger points that refer pain to the head, jaw and face can be located in the jaw muscles, the neck, the shoulders and even the upper back. The diagram below shows some examples. 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 other therapy to address trigger points beyond the jaw muscles. Some of these therapies include acupuncture, message therapy, physical therapy and injection therapy.
(The following are the instructions for our patients who are currently using a temporary deprogrammer and still have some pain.
1) Perform the neck stretching exercises per the video below.
2) Start therapy with a massage therapist or physical therapist experience in treating myofascial pain (trigger points) in the upper back, shoulders, neck and head.
3) Call us when you begin therapy so we know when you started.
4) Do the stretches and message therapy for at least 3 weeks while continuing to where your temporary deprogrammer.
5) After at least 3 weeks report back to my office for re-evaluation.)
Neck stretches for trigger points that refer pain to the head, face and jaw muscles.
*Note: Bite guards, and other adjunctive therapies (message, acupuncture, etc.) will treat the symptoms of trigger points but will not solve the problem permanently. Permanent bite balancing procedures (if occluso-muscle disorder is part of the problem) and proper stretching and physical exercise is the only real solution to the problem.