Treating Pain: TheMind-Mouth-Body Connection

Do You Experience…

  • Sensitivity to hot and cold
  • Difficulty chewing
  • Headaches
  • Temporal pain
  • Jaw pain or a “tired jaw”
  • Neck pain and shoulder tension
  • Lower back tension

Chronic and acute pain takes many forms, and can have just as many underlying causes. But for those who suffer with any type of pain, the outcome is always the same- a deteriorating quality of life.

Physical symptoms can occur alone or in combination. The key to long term pain relief is a comprehensive diagnosis that takes into account both physical and psychological factors. The chronic pain epidemic that we face as a population today is rooted in these combined aspects of our overall well being.

It is not common for someone who is experiencing temporal pain, migraines or muscle tension in the neck and shoulders to consider discussing this with their dentist. However, a dentist trained in the diagnosis of orofacial pain and TMJ related disorders can often address not only the painful symptoms, but help identify those factors that are causing your pain and work with you in a multidisciplinary fashion to improve your quality of life.

The Mind – Mouth- Body Connection

“Pain, especially chronic pain, is a major health care problem. Chronic pain costs the United States up to 635 billion dollars each year in medical treatment and lost productivity.
The dentist’s responsibility lies a great burden for proper management of pains in and around the mouth, face, and neck. They must therefore be able to differentiate between pains that stem from dental, oral and masticatory sources and those that emanate from elsewhere.” (Source: “Bell’s Oral and Facial Pain” seventh edition by Jeffrey P. Okeson.)

It has become evident that the jaw tension, muscle dysfunction and malocclusion many patients experience are often the painful physical manifestations of much deeper rooted health issues. Providing treatment for the physical symptoms that will be effective at both addressing pain and supporting long term oral health and well being relies on evaluating the patient in a holistic manner.

My personal experience with pain and advanced training with leading experts in the areas of orofacial pain serves as a comprehensive foundation for helping patients who suffer with both chronic and acute pain. I am able to go beyond the conventional parameters of diagnosis and care for your dental concerns, using technology that measures the force, function and stability of your bite. My post graduate studies at the University of Kentucky with Jeffrey Okeson broadened my understanding of the origins of pain, raising my awareness of the physchological factor often impacting chronic pain and the physical symptoms many patients suffer with on a daily basis. Sometimes dentistry is only the tip of the iceberg, either revealing an underlying cause for pain or leading to a more in depth evaluation of possible emotional or psychological factors.

The study of the relationship between our psychological and physical well being continues to reveal how closely the mind and body are related. Western medicine is slowly experiencing a shift in how we diagnose and treat pain, recognizing that many of our current pharmaceutical based treatments are palliative in nature and can lead to even bigger problems for patients, including addiction.

Personality Traits and Chronic Pain

The fast paced, stressful and over stimulated modern lifestyle can play a role in our overall health and well being. Our ability to manage stress in our daily lives is impacted by many factors, including personality types.

The classic “type A” personality that we are all familiar with carries with it an often greater risk for experiencing headaches, muscle tension and oral symptoms such as an uncomfortable bite. These are the result of continuous, underlying tension in people striving to be “perfect” and over achieve in every possible aspect of their life. The price of what is perceived as a highly successful and accomplished life can sometimes be chronic or acute pain.

Dentistry and Treatment for Pain: The Value Of Listening

As your dentist, I am a partner in your overall healthcare. By helping you to maintain your oral health and establish a functional bite, I can also work with you to resolve chronic and acute pain issues that are both a factor and a symptom of a larger physical problem. The pain that many experience physically can also have emotional and psychological roots.

My experience as a patient suffering with chronic pain and my advanced training in both dentistry and orofacial pain have given me the range of skills necessary to help patients address pain issues from both the physical and emotional angle. I have come to understand the value of listening to a patient, enabling them to help me work with them to uncover the root of their pain as they tell their story and relate personal concerns in their own words.

I work with patients in a consultative, comprehensive manner that provides the opportunity for both a thorough bite analysis and a confidential questionnaire to explore other factors affecting their oral and overall health. I believe this serves as a starting point from which we can work to create a plan to treat the cause of your pain with lasting results.

In some cases, we can address your concerns with appropriate dentistry that will rebalance the bite to alleviate tension and dysfunction in the jaw. In other cases, coordination with other specialists may be recommended for the best long term outcome. I believe it is my responsibility to help your restore your quality of life by getting to the root of your pain issues, instead of treating the symptoms.

The Journey to Living Pain Free

Each patient’s journey to less pain and a better quality of life is unique. It is a path of discovery that is laid out as a result of diagnosing the physical symptoms and beginning to uncover the emotional factors that may be influencing your health. My goal is to help you find the right path so that you can work towards a long term result that will benefit your oral health, your physical health and your emotional well being. To schedule a consultation in our Knoxville dentist office contact us at (865) 276-7173.