If you suffer from trigeminal neuralgia, you know that everyday activities like applying makeup or washing your face can trigger agonizing pain. As a first step, people with the condition often visit their dentists, thinking the pain is a symptom of a dental problem. Many dentists, unaware of the condition and the medical treatment options available, are left with little choice but to refer patients to various oral specialists.
That’s why Deb Panetta, The Valley Hospital’s director of radiation oncology, and Susan Lombardo, The Gamma Knife Center’s nurse navigator, hosted a booth at the 2013 Garden State Dental Conference & Expo. Welcoming more than 1,200 attendees, including dentists, dental specialists and hygienists, the conference aims to educate the dental community about the latest treatment options across a wide range of conditions.
Deb Panetta, The Valley Hospital’s director of radiation oncology, and Susan Lombardo, The Gamma Knife Center’s nurse navigator, hosted a booth at the 2013 Garden State Dental Conference & Expo
“There’s a disconnect between the dental and medical communities,” Panetta says. “Many dentists said they’ve only seen trigeminal neuralgia three or four times in their careers. Because it’s not a dental condition, they’re not aware of the treatment options available in medical settings and instead refer patients to specialists within the dental community.”
With more than a third of Gamma Knife Center patients diagnosed with trigeminal neuralgia—many who come to the center on their own after becoming frustrated by a lack of effective treatment—The Gamma Knife Center sought new avenues to educate the dental community who may see patients before they’re diagnosed.
“Many patients with trigeminal neuralgia struggle to find out what’s wrong, and what treatment will work for them. They may see an oral surgeon and have teeth pulled, but the pain is still there. They might be referred to a pain management specialist who may prescribe medications that work for a while, but the pain comes back, and they become frustrated,” Panetta says. “It can be a challenge to manage their care until they achieve extended relief, and that’s why we want to provide education and help bridge the information gap. Many of the dentists we spoke with were very interested in learning more about Gamma Knife treatment.”