Oral Neuroscience includes research on the role of the nervous system in orofacial function and in the diagnosis and treatment of oral-facial neural and muscular disorders.
The neural control of oral functions, such as mastication, swallowing, phonation, speaking, salivation, and of disorders that occur during sleep, such as apnea and bruxism, has been the research focus in several laboratories around the world. Research on the pathophysiology of bruxism includes studies on the role of cortical events in the genesis of this disorder and has challenged the old concept that bruxism is caused by occlusal interferences.
One of the most complex patient conditions found in the dental practice is orofacial pain, and especially if this is chronic. Studies on trigeminal pain mechanisms have provided the basis for understanding clinical phenomena such as pain associated with nerve injury, the spread of pain beyond the injured site, and its persistence after complete healing has taken place. There is emerging evidence supporting the role of sex hormones and genetic make up in the pathophysiology of chronic pain, and in the responses to pain medications. With trigeminal pain mechanisms being elucidated, clinical epidemiology has provided evidence that questions the role of occlusion in the etiology of orofacial pain.