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Ask The Doctor: Is the pain in my face “TMJ” or something else?

First, the Temporomandibular Joint (TMJ) is a part of your body, not a disease. It connects the jaw to the skull bones enabling you to talk, chew, swallow, and yawn. Patients with TMJ dysfunction may experience pain in the face, jaw or neck when performing these simple movements. Other symptoms include limited jaw movement and painful clicking or popping sounds.
In some patients, facial pain results from migraine headaches, muscle pain, neuropathic (“nerve”) pain, tumors, inflammatory diseases, or infections.
Facial pain patients often seek the care of a dentist first because of the pain’s localization in the mouth and surrounding structures. Premature invasive treatments, such as unnecessary dental extractions, maxillary sinus surgeries, inappropriate Temporomandibular Joint (TMJ) surgery, and other irreversible treatments can yield devastating results.  
Ali Makki, D.M.D. is an orofacial pain specialist who directs the Hoag Oral and Facial Pain Center located in Hoag Neurosciences Institute at 3900 West Coast Highway #330, Newport Beach, CA 92663. To make an appointment with Dr. Makki, please call 949/764-6066.