Comorbidities of chronic facial pain and obstructive sleep apnea

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Purpose of review

This article explains the high comorbidity of craniofacial pain (chronic face pain, temporomandibular disorders, and primary headaches) with obstructive sleep breathing disorders and obstructive sleep apnea (OSA). It is recommended that physicians treating OSA should be aware of the concurrent chronic pain that affects the quality of sleep, and also dentists treating chronic pain be aware of a sleep breathing origin so that proper reciprocal referrals be made for optimal patient treatment outcome.

Recent findings

These comorbid relationships are not limited to adults. The most recent literature demonstrates that children diagnosed with primary headaches are highly comorbid with OSA and frequently have chronic facial pain complaints.


It is recommended that patients who seek care for the symptoms of sleep-related breathing disorders (OSA), or patients seeking care for chronic head and face pain be screened with intake forms that include questions of both to insure optimal treatment outcomes for either chief complaint.

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