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Oral Myofascial Pain: Symptoms, Diagnosis, and Treatment

Oral Myofascial PainDo the muscles in your cheeks and jaw often feel sore and tender, seemingly for no reason? Are your teeth sensitive when you bite down or consume hot or cold food and drink? Does your jaw pop regularly? Do you have difficulty opening your mouth as wide as you used to? If you answer yes to any of these questions, you are probably suffering from oral myofascial pain syndrome, typically the result of “bruxism,” which is the clenching and grinding of the teeth.

Myofascial pain syndrome is a chronic pain disorder affecting the fascia (connective tissue covering the muscles) that causes muscle pain and tenderness. When this myofascial pain manifests in the jaw and temporomandibular region, it is usually caused by bruxism, which often occurs during sleep. This nocturnal clenching and grinding can result from a number of factors ranging from irregular tooth contacts, emotional stress, or sleep disorders, although the causes of bruxism are largely undetermined and multifactorial.

The diagnosis of myofascial pain is usually considered to be trauma from occlusion, an unfortunate result of bruxism. This occlusal trauma inflicts damage upon the teeth and surrounding muscles and bones, and it is exacerbated by bruxism and the improper alignment of the jaws and teeth.

Oral Myofascial Pain 2If you suffer from myofascial pain syndrome caused by occlusal trauma, it is imperative to seek treatment, since unmitigated occlusal trauma can result in mobile teeth, pain, sensitivity to hot and cold, necrosis (premature death of living tissue cells), and bone resorption. Fortunately, a number of treatment options are available.

First, I will give you oral isometric exercises to practice in order to strengthen and re-train the muscular pathways of the buccinator, temporalis and pterygoid muscles in the jaw. Also, I recommend the application of moist heat to improve circulation, relieve stiffness, and decrease pain in the area. I may perform an occlusal (bite) adjustment procedure during your visit to North Raleigh Periodontics, and, if necessary, I might prescribe anti-inflammatory medication to decrease irritation and tenderness.

Finally, to treat the myofascial pain due to occlusal trauma, I may create a custom night guard for you to prevent the nocturnal bruxism contributing to your discomfort. Custom-fitted to your mouth, these hard devices align the users bite, alleviating the pain caused from a misaligned jaw. Moreover, the night guard provides feedback to the central nervous system, re-training users to clench and grind less while sleeping and physically preventing users from bruxing during sleep. An additional benefit provided by the custom night guard is preventing teeth from shifting.

Occlusal Appliance for Tooth Wear

If you experience any of the unpleasant sensations associated with myofascial pain syndrome, do not despair. The first step to providing you with relief is recognizing the symptoms of the syndrome. I will then be able to diagnose your condition, which usually entails identifying occlusal trauma resulting from bruxism. Finally, I will recommend a treatment plan to ameliorate your condition and provide relief.

We are looking forward to helping you. If you have any questions please call us at (919) 518-8222.