If you’ve been avoiding the dentist despite chronic tooth pain, you may want to reconsider your decision. Although cavities or an abscess can be the underlying cause of teeth and jaw pain, these symptoms also relate to a more serious nerve disorder known as trigeminal neuralgia.
Experienced neurosurgeon, Christopher Duma, MD, FACS, recommends that you follow through with a dental check-up for tooth pain at its onset. If your oral health is stable, you may need a follow-up evaluation with Dr. Duma to identify trigeminal neuralgia.
The link between trigeminal neuralgia and tooth pain
Trigeminal neuralgia is a chronic pain condition that results from dysfunction in your nervous system, specifically the trigeminal nerve. This nerve provides sensations to your face and sends signals to your brain that help you recognize touch, temperature changes, and the like.
Trigeminal nerve dysfunction generally results from unnecessary pressure on the nerve from surrounding blood vessels. When the nerve is irritated, you can experience attacks of pain anywhere in your face that are usually short-lasting in early stages.
People often describe trigeminal neuralgia pain as being shock-like or jolting. You might experience this type of pain in your teeth and jaw, but the condition can also send shooting waves of pain through your cheeks, lips, and gums. Pain may be felt in just one side of your face or both at the same time.
For many with trigeminal neuralgia, the condition worsens over time, and even the slightest touch can trigger excruciating attacks of pain. Brushing your teeth and even wiping away a stray eyelash can cause pain attacks severe enough to limit you physically for weeks or months.
Risk factors for trigeminal neuralgia
You may be at increased risk for trigeminal neuralgia as you get older, especially after 50. You may also be more likely to develop the condition if you have underlying medical conditions, like multiple sclerosis, that cause damage to your nerves.
When your facial pain is so intense that it begins to interfere with your quality of life, Dr. Duma can provide diagnostic neurological testing to confirm trigeminal neuralgia. He also creates a treatment plan that focuses on both relieving existing pain and preventing new pain attacks.
Alleviating tooth pain with trigeminal neuralgia treatments
When your trigeminal neuralgia pain is no match for medications, you may find relief with minimally invasive surgical procedures Dr. Duma offers in his Newport Beach, California, office.
Two available and effective treatments for trigeminal neuralgia include:
Gamma Knife® stereotactic radiosurgery
The Gamma Knife is an innovative technology that allows Dr. Duma the opportunity to reduce pressure on your trigeminal nerve to interfere with the transmission of pain signals to your brain. The technology uses beams of gamma radiation to remove tumors or lesions that press on the nerve and trigger your pain attacks without the need for incisions.
Microvascular decompression surgery
Microvascular decompression is a surgical procedure that focuses on the removal of blood vessels pressing on your trigeminal nerve. Through a small incision in the back of your head, Dr. Duma can eliminate the necessary blood vessels and place a soft pad to cushion your nerve.
If you need a diagnostic evaluation for unexplained tooth or facial pain, call the office of Christopher Duma, MD, FACS, or request an appointment through the online booking system today.