Trigeminal neuralgia, or TN, is a chronic pain condition that causes sudden, intense facial pain. It’s caused by damaged or irritated trigeminal nerve fibers in your brainstem.
The trigeminal nerve is one of 12 cranial nerves—the nerves that connect your brain and spinal cord to the rest of your body. The trigeminal nerve controls sensation in your face, including things like chewing, biting, and smiling.
The trigeminal nerve has three branches: the ophthalmic branch (which supplies sensation to your forehead), the maxillary branch (which supplies sensation to your upper jaw), and the mandibular branch (which supplies sensation to your lower jaw).
Trigeminal neuralgia can be triggered by anything that irritates these three branches, including:
• Bruxism (grinding and clenching teeth)
• Cold temperatures or exposure to cold air
• Pressure on the face from dentures or dental work
• Sinus infections
• Injury to the head or face