Trigeminal Neuralgia vs TMJ Disorder. What is causing your facial pain?


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Trigeminal Neuralgia or TMJ Disorder? It’s not always easy to tell.

Your face includes several nerve endings, tendons, ligaments, bones, and muscles. As a Indianapolis TMJ dentist, I want you to understand that many conditions may cause your spasms or pain.

In fact, many dentists and medical professionals misdiagnose TMJ disorder as trigeminal neuralgia. Here is how to tell the difference so you can seek proper treatment and ask the right questions. Pain in your face is no joke. It hinders important activities like eating, brushing your teeth, talking, and even kissing.

Finding treatment that works for you will reduce your pain and improve your quality of life.

What is Trigeminal Neuralgia (TN)?

This condition sends jolts of pain throughout your face. Daily activities usually trigger an episode. This can make brushing your teeth, eating, or talking very painful. Even a soft summer breeze can send shock waves through your facial nerves.

What Causes TN?

Your trigeminal nerves control jaw motion on either side of your face. They also send information back and forth from your brain to your jaw and face.

You experience excruciating pain when something disrupts this process. Several factors can deteriorate or impact these nerves’ ability to function.

  • Multiple sclerosis
  • Stroke
  • Nerve damage from injuries, prior surgeries, or age
  • Pressure on the nerve (or nerves) from nearby blood vessels, obstructions, or tumors

Specific TN Symptoms

As a TMJ specialist, I want to you understand trigeminal neuralgia’s unique set of symptoms. You can then seek treatment from a professional armed with knowledge about your condition. Many dentists may not have the experience to understand the subtle differences between these painful conditions.

  • Sharp facial pain
  • Sharp tooth pain
  • Sharp pain underneath or in front of your ear
  • Symptoms feel isolated on one side of the face.
  • Symptoms come on suddenly.
  • Activities trigger sudden symptoms. (Eating, brushing your teeth, talking, touching your face, etc.)

TMJ Dentist Explains Facial Pain from Temporomandibular Joint Disorders

Now that you understand the unique symptoms of TN, you can contrast them with TMJ disorder’s symptoms. This will help you identify which condition you may have.

It’s even possible you face both conditions. That’s why you should meet with a qualified Physiologic TMJ dentist to discuss your symptoms and find a comprehensive treatment.

Look for these hallmark symptoms.

  • Clicking or crunching in your jaw joint
  • Difficulty opening your mouth
  • Muscle spasms
  • Your jaw locks open or closed
  • The pain radiates into your neck and shoulders
  • Headaches or migraines
  • Ringing in your ears

The facial pain from TMJ disorder may feel similar to arthritis. Trigeminal neuralgia feels sharp and electrifying.

What is TMJ Disorder?

This name applies to many conditions that impact the temporomandibular joints. These important joints connect your jaw to your skull. TMJ Disorder or TMD for short, can throw off your jaw’s alignment. This causes several symptoms throughout your face and body.

I see it again and again: patients don’t realize that TMJ can cause pain in other areas of the body. In fact, TMJ often causes aches and pain in your neck, back, and shoulders.

TMJ Treatment Options

Our comprehensive TMJ treatment plan includes a few steps. This plan targets the painful symptoms while healing the root cause.

  1. Initial pain relief with Ultra-Low Frequency Transcutaneous Electrical Neural Stimulation (TENS) is an excellent drug-free method. This technique improves blood flow and promotes natural pain relief from endorphins.
  2. Adjusting your bite. I use a non-invasive, custom-built orthotic that can gently balance your jaw to its optimum position.
  3. Making it last. This step varies depending on your personal needs. Methods may include braces, adjusting your tooth enamel, crowns, or full smile makeovers. The goal is to stop what’s causing your TMJ disorder at the source while enhancing your bite at the same time.

Dr. Mike Deldar: A Noblesville TMJ Specialist

At Deldar Dental, we treat our patients like family. Our ultimate goal is to make you as comfortable as possible. My staff and I take a holistic approach to dentistry to treat the whole body from inside out.

As a TMJ specialist, I know symptoms can manifest throughout different areas of the body. I will listen to your concerns about facial pain and get to the root of the problem. We can develop a personalized and comprehensive treatment together.

Request an appointment or give my office a call today at:

(317) 208-0000

Dr. Mike Deldar, DDS – TMJ Specialist Noblesville

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