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Facial Pain & TMD Barrington

Woman holding face in painDid you know that, besides providing exceptional dental care, we also offer effective management of facial pain? Whether you have jaw pain, ear pain, headaches, or other types of facial pain, Dr. Iwona can address your discomfort using various conservative treatment options.

After suffering from migraines, general dentist Dr. Iwona became motivated to learn more about the causes and treatments of facial pain. After completing a mini-residency on TMJ and Orofacial Pain at UCLA, she became a member of the American Academy of Orofacial Pain and annually attends their symposium. She is also a member of the American Pain Association and the International Association for the Study of Pain.

Are you a doctor looking to refer a patient to our care? Click here for our online Facial Pain & TMD referral form.

The First Step: Initial Examination

If you’ve had imaging such as X-rays or MRIs done elsewhere, please bring those in for Dr. Iwona to review. The process of evaluating your facial pain is different from that of a dental exam. Dr. Iwona will perform muscle, cervical, and neurological examinations to determine the source of your pain.

After the examinations, she can determine if you have a muscle, joint, or neurological problem. Treatment for your pain will differ depending upon the diagnosis. It might be in the form of habit changes, painkillers or steroids, splints, physical therapy, an injection such as Lidocaine or BOTOX®, laser therapy, or a referral to a neurosurgeon.

Our Approaches to Relieving Facial Pain

Here’s a closer look at the options we have for alleviating your facial discomfort:

BOTOX

Often associated with cosmetic use, BOTOX is also a powerful tool in managing myofascial pain. This treatment targets deep muscles like the masseter and temporalis, commonly affected in individuals who grind or clench their teeth. It’s not purely for aesthetic purposes; botulinum injections relieve persistent muscle tension and painful trigger points.

The exact mechanism of botulinum’s pain alleviation isn’t fully understood, but it’s known to reduce muscle activity and has demonstrated pain-reducing effects. This application of BOTOX primarily serves those whose quality of life is impacted by chronic muscle pain.

Dental acupuncture

Dr. Iwona obtained certification in Dental Acupuncture (for TMJ treatment) and Integrative Oral Medicine from UCLA. Dental acupuncture is listed as the proven successful treatment for pain in dentistry, and Dr. Iwona primarily uses dental acupuncture for myofascial pain and any pain in the facial area.

Lidocaine and steroid injections

We also offer trigger point injections with lidocaine, so if there is a problem with the pain in the muscles, Dr. Iwona can inject the painful point with the Lidocaine, providing immediate relief because the drug is a numbing agent. The lidocaine also tests if this is the source of the pain. “Lidocaine might be used as both a diagnostic tool and as a treatment, because often it gives people significant relief,” she said.

Steroid injections are also offered at the practice. These are injected into the joint because the TMJ is like the umbrella of the joint plus muscle.

Flexeril

This type of muscle relaxant prevents muscle spasms and may prevent pain.

Physical therapy

We work with an excellent physical therapist who can provide customized exercises to help our patients with facial pain.

Nightguards/Splints

A nightguard, also known as a splint, is a custom dental device made of soft or hard acrylic material and covers all the teeth in one arch, providing cushioning between the upper and lower teeth.  Nightguards do not prevent bruxism (teeth grinding), but do prevent the detrimental effects of bruxism, such as tooth wear, jaw pain, and other issues.

TMJ Assessment and TMD Treatment

Problems with your temporomandibular joint (TMJ) and the muscles in your face that control it are known as temporomandibular disorders (TMD). Dr. Iwona will check the sounds from your TMJ with a stethoscope and establish a tentative diagnosis.

How TMJ pain is treated depends on the case, but it usually starts with painkillers, a soft diet, and exercises for the muscles. Sometimes Dr. Iwona prescribes medications such as steroids if inflammation is present. She also may recommend a splint, a specific type of mouthguard you wear at night.

Some patients have clicking joints but no pain, while others do have pain. Dr. Iwona will instruct on managing any discomfort with your TMJ through sleeping, posture and exercise.

If you’ve had TMJ pain for at least six months, your case could be considered chronic. If your TMJ pain is from a recent trauma, it may resolve in less than six months. She is happy to work with any specialists in the treatment of your facial pain.

TMJ laser treatment on female patient

Providing Noninvasive Laser Therapy

We proudly offer the Gemini laser, which now features a PBM adapter. Our dentists can use this technology to manage pain related to TMD.

How It Works

Photobiomodulation (PBM), or low-level laser therapy, is a noninvasive photo-chemical reaction. Here’s what happens: light energy of a particular wavelength, intensity, and duration is absorbed at a cellular level.

When that occurs, there’s an increase in healing and an improved recovery time. Other benefits include the stimulation of collagen production, a reduction of free radicals, and a decrease in TMD-related pain. The treatment takes only about a minute.

We typically do laser treatment twice a week for at least three weeks for best results. Although laser therapy used for this purpose isn’t covered by insurance, our fees are very affordable.

Pain Relief & Healing With Platelet-Rich Plasma (PRP)

Since the mid-90s, Platelet-Rich Plasma (PRP) has been used in various surgical settings, but has become popular in the dental industry. PRP is a safe, convenient, and cost-effective way to reduce post-operative pain, stimulate tissue and bone growth, and reduce healing time.

We use it at Hart Dental to relieve our patients’ facial pain and discomfort from TMD. In the past, we gave patients steroid or Lidocaine injections to relieve pain, but with PRP, we use the patient’s own blood to improve the healing and regeneration of the TMJ.

What Does the Process Involve?

The procedure is simple and straightforward. After drawing a small amount of your blood (about 55cc), we’ll place it in a centrifuge machine to separate the platelet-rich plasma from the rest of your blood. Typically, your blood will be spun two to three times to achieve optimal results.

Once the PRP is isolated from the rest of the blood, your dentist will collect it and inject it into the affected area. In the case of TMD, the dentist would inject PRP into the jaw joint.

A Patient Success Story

Dr. Iwona sometimes administers Sphenopalatine Ganglion Blocks (SGB) for various types of facial pain relief. Some patients come in with tinnitus and are referred to her by ENT specialists. “One of my patients comes in every 3-4 months for injections for the specific muscle inside the mandible. When I give her Lidocaine or BOTOX injections, the ringing in the ear disappears.” Dr. Iwona also can treat trigeminal neuralgia with BOTOX injections.

Put That Pain in Your Past

If you’ve been struggling with facial pain or TMD, we encourage you to contact our Barrington practice today. Dr. Iwona can provide a diagnosis and treat the problem using various options.

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TMJ Treatment Barrington, North Barrington, South Barrington and Barrington Hills IL | (847) 865-4278