Diagnosing Facial Nerve Pain

woman clutching jaw in pain

Facial nerve pain can cause intense discomfort and make everyday activities, like brushing your teeth, applying cosmetics, or eating more difficult. If you’re experiencing facial pain, an orofacial specialist can help diagnose your condition and determine which treatment will be most effective. Here, Rutgers Health University Dental Associates explain the diagnosis of facial nerve pain and how you can find relief.

Causes of Facial Nerve Pain

Facial nerve pain stems from a disturbance to the trigeminal nerve. This nerve is responsible for carrying sensation from your face to your brain. The function of the trigeminal nerve can be affected when one of your blood vessels contacts the nerve and puts pressure on it. For some, the blood vessels may adjust with age, bringing them into contact with the trigeminal nerve. Additionally, a growing tumor can push a blood vessel into the nerve. Diseases that cause damage to the protective sheath that surrounds the trigeminal nerve, like multiple sclerosis, can also increase sensitivity.

Symptoms and Triggers

When the blood vessels in your face create pressure on the trigeminal nerve, you may experience several symptoms, which include:

  • Shooting or stabbing pain that lasts for several seconds or several minutes, even with no stimulus
  • Waves of pain preceded by a dull aching or burning sensation
  • Targeted, intense pain in the jaw, gums, teeth, and other areas where the trigeminal nerve is located

Many normal activities that cause contact with the affected parts of your face may also trigger pain. Symptoms often occur when affected individuals brush their teeth, eat, shave, talk, smile, or feel a breeze. If this pain has become severe enough to impede daily life, it’s time to visit an orofacial specialist.

Receiving a Diagnosis

Once you’ve scheduled a consultation with your dentist or an orofacial specialist, he or she will ask questions about your pain to better understand your condition. Before your appointment, try to keep track of how often pain occurs, which parts of the face are affected, and the level of discomfort you typically experience. This will help your specialist determine the potential causes of your pain and how best to treat them.

Your appointment will also include reflex tests and an examination to see what triggers pain to further narrow the possible causes. If there is still uncertainty about the cause of your facial nerve pain, X-rays and/or, an oral screening can identify tumors or the presence of diseases that put pressure on the trigeminal nerve. Once an exact cause is determined, your specialist will develop a customized treatment plan that is tailored to your needs.

Seek Treatment For Facial Nerve Pain Now

If you’re experiencing facial nerve pain, identifying the cause of the problem and receiving treatment can significantly improve your quality of life. Ready to get the help you deserve? Schedule an appointment with Rutgers Health University Dental Associates today to learn more about our orofacial pain services and how we can help.