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Frequently Asked Questions

Q: I've never heard of Orofacial Pain. What is it?

 

A: Orofacial Pain is the 12th and newest ADA-recognized dental specialty, similar to other more well-known specialties you've probably heard of, like Orthodontics.

ADA-Recognized Dental Specialties

 

Q: What is an Orofacial Pain Specialist?

 

A: An Orofacial Pain specialist is a dentist who has completed additional training in diagnosing and treating pain disorders in the head and neck region. The dentist has typically passed the ADA-recognized board exam with the American Board of Orofacial Pain (though this is not required in some states). Dr. Wang has  completed a Masters degree in Orofacial Pain and Oral Medicine (another recognized dental specialty) and received board certification with the American Board of Orofacial Pain.

Q: What does an Orofacial Pain Specialist do that is different from other dentists?

 

A: An Orofacial Pain specialist focuses primarily on diagnosing and treating TMJ-related disorders, nerve disorders of the face/neck region, primary headaches (such as migraines) and sleep-related breathing disorders. General dentists can provide care for some of these disorders, however they do not have the same education, training and board-certification.

Q: I am so confused. I see dentists listed as TMJ/Craniofacial Pain/Dental Sleep specialists. What is the difference between a TMJ/Craniofacial Pain/Dental Sleep specialist and an Orofacial Pain specialist?

 

A: Orofacial Pain is one of the 12 ADA-recognized dental specialties, similar to other more well-known specialties like Orthodontics. TMJ, Craniofacial Pain and Dental Sleep are not ADA-recognized dental specialties, and board-certification with various organizations does not designate specialty status. Understandably, this can be very confusing for patients. To protect the general public from misinformation, the ADA publishes information on the 12 recognized dental specialties and the corresponding approved specialty board.

ADA-Recognized Dental Specialties
ADA-Recognized Dental Specialty Boards

Q: I was told that I have TMJ. What does that mean?

 

A: TMJ stands for the temporomandibular joint. This joint connects your lower jaw to your skull. There can be pain and dysfunction resulting from disorders related to either or both of these joints. These symptoms are collectively referred to as TMJ Disorders (TMJD or TMD) and can be caused by various factors.

 

Q: How do you treat TMJ problems?

 

A: Determining appropriate treatment for facial/jaw pain requires a thorough history, exam and diagnosis first. Once diagnosed, a custom therapy plan can be created, as there is not a one-size-fits-all solution.

 

Q: I was told that my TMJ disc is dislocated, and  that someone could put it back in place. Can you do that?

 

A: Once a TMJ disc is completely dislocated, it does not need to be “put back in place”. The TMJ is a complex joint with many structures, including muscles, ligaments, and bones. When the disc is displaced, it affects the overall balance of these structures. Over time, the surrounding tissues adapt to the new position of the disc. This makes it unnecessary to restore the disc to its original location. If Dr. Wang diagnoses a displaced disc, she will educate you on the process of adapting to this new disc position and how best to support your jaw during this process.

 

Q: I was told that my TMJ disc is dislocated. Does that mean I will need surgery?

 

A: TMJ disc dislocation does not typically require surgery. The majority of joints are able to adapt and to function comfortably even with a dislocated disc ligament. (see above question)

 

Q: My dentist recommended Botox for teeth clenching and grinding. Will that stop my clenching and grinding?

 

A: Botox is not typically the best way to address clenching and grinding. Dr. Wang will discuss other more conservative and appropriate options prior to recommending Botox therapy.

 

Q: I see a neurologist for my headaches already. You are a dentist. Why would I need to see you?

 

A: While seeing an Orofacial Pain specialist is not mandatory for headache treatment, an evaluation can help determine if any head or neck issues may be contributing to your headaches. 

 

Q: I’m having jaw pain. Why are you asking me about headaches?

 

A: Headaches can be related to jaw or facial pain. Understanding this connection can aid in managing both conditions.

 

Q: I’m on a lot of medications for my migraines. Are there really other options for treating migraines?

 

A: Yes, Dr. Wang is trained to offer non-invasive, non-pharmacological therapies for managing migraines and cluster headaches. All of the therapies offered are backed by research and utilize FDA-cleared methods. She will determine if you are a candidate for these therapies. Please see "What We Treat/Migraine Therapies" for more information.

Q: I’ve been told that I have mild sleep apnea and that I don’t need any treatment. Is that true?

 

A: All levels of sleep apnea should be addressed since they can increase long term health risks, such as high blood pressure, diabetes and stroke. Dr. Wang works with your sleep medicine physician to manage obstructive sleep apnea by reviewing your sleep study results and presenting treatment options.

Q: What kind of treatments are available for sleep apnea?

 

A: If you've been diagnosed with obstructive sleep apnea, you can schedule a consultation to explore treatment options and to determine if you are a candidate for oral appliance therapy.

 

Q: Are you a Sleep Dentist?

 

A: No. Dr. Wang is a board-certified Orofacial Pain specialist with additional training in oral sleep appliance therapy and accreditation with AADSM. The ADA-recognized dental specialty of Orofacial Pain includes the treatment of sleep-related breathing disorders such as obstructive sleep apnea. Sleep dentistry is not a separate ADA-recognized dental specialty.

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