Dentists should be aware of patients who complain about a toothache or pain of their sinuses, with no real dental cause, might be suffering from the medical condition called trigeminal neuralgia.
The symptoms associated with this condition is usually a sharp, stabbing pain that can be aggravated by brushing teeth, cold liquids, chewing gum/food or talking.
Misdiagnosis of trigeminal neuralgia can often result in unnecessary dental procedures such as multiple extractions, endodontic procedures, and TMJ surgery. All of these are done and they have no effect of the discomfort that patient feels.
The medical condition trigeminal neuralgia is caused when the blood vessel at the trigemenal nerve root entry-exit zone is compressed. The pain the person who suffers from this condition is one of the most painful. The symptoms associated with the condition are very mild in the early stages, however it will increase in intensity over time. The person will experience electric shock like pain as it progresses.
Trigeminal neuralgia can be triggered by the slightest of stimulations. This can result in a painful attack for the patient. It should be noted that around 25% of people who have the condition will respond to treatments of anticonvulsant drugs. For the others, surgery is required.
Trigeminal Neuralgia has distinct symptoms that separate it from other forms of facial pain.
- The pain is acute, short bursts as opposed to a dull, constant ache.
- The pain is often described as electric shock-like in nature.
- The pain can be triggered by light touch or sensitivity to vibrations such as eating, shaving, brushing teeth or talking
- The pain will come and go. Sometimes it will be intense; while other times the person will be pain free.
The medical history of the patient and the description of the some are major ways of identifying trigeminal neuralgia. Many doctors will often recommend that the patient gets a MRI or CAT scan to rule out other possible cause of pain. There is no specific test to diagnose Trigeminal Neuralgia.