Experimental and Clinical Orofacial Pain Laboratory

Experimental and Clinical Orofacial Pain Laboratory

Head of Laboratory: Thomas Graven-Nielsen, Professor (TGN)


The aim is to study pain and motor dysfunction specifically related to the orofacial region. Our focus is to develop techniques to monitor pain as well as motor control in humans and to use these techniques to investigate basic pain mechanisms. This basic knowledge will hopefully provide a better basis for diagnosis and lead to an improved rehabilitation of patients with orofacial sensory or motor dysfunction.




Main Research Areas

  1. The study of jaw reflexes during various pain and non-pain conditions
    To allow better understanding of trigeminal reflex pathways and their modulation. This has been investigated for the jaw-stretch reflex and the exteroceptive suppression period elicited by cutaneous electrical stimuli and laser stimuli. Furthermore, transcranial magnetic stimulation has been used to study motor evoked potentials in the masseter muscle during various clenching tasks and during deep nociceptive input.
  2. Interaction between trigeminal-cervical nociceptive afferents and reflex circuits in humans
    Our results show that pain in the masseter muscle facilitates neck-reflex as well as jaw-stretch reflex. This basic knowledge will hopefully provide a better basis neck and jaw muscle pain processing and may lead to improved rehabilitation of patients with orofacial pain disorders and cervical-spinal disorders. The collaboration with a leading laboratory in the field of trigeminal pain physiology and motor control in animals will allow further exploration of the functional characteristics of jaw reflex in conditions with perturbed sensory inputs.
  3. Clinical research on jaw reflex in patients with temporal mandibular disorders and clinical headache has also been addressed in collaboration with Aalborg Hospital and Aarhus Dental School. The influence of temporomandibular joint afferent input on reflex activity in the jaw-closing muscles will be investigated.
  4. Studies on diffuse noxious inhibitory controls (DNIC) mechanisms
    Modulatory effects specifically in the orofacial area in healthy humans, in healthy humans experiencing experimentally induced tonic orofacial pain (’surrogate’ pain model), in TMD patients suffering from either myofascial pain or TMJ osteoarthritic pain by using a new developed. DNIC model.
  5. Clinical research on Systematic Assessment of Somatosensory and Motor Function Following Orthognathic Surgery.
    Collaborated with Department of Oral and Maxillofacial Surgery, Aalborg Hospital, the study is to investigate if patients undergoing orthognathic surgery differ in clinical, somatosensory (pain in particular) and motor function at baseline they are compared with an active and passive control group in a cross-sectional study.

Key Collaborators

  • Department of Clinical Oral Physiology, Dental School, University of Aarhus, Denmark (Prof. Peter Svensson)
  • Faculty of Dentistry, The University of Toronto, Toronto, Canada (Prof. Barry John Sessle)
  • Faculty of Pharmaceutical Sciences, University of British Columbia, Vancouver, Canada (Assoc. Prof. Brian E. Cairns)
  • Department of Oral Function, Academic Centre for Dentistry Amsterdam (ACTA), Amsterdam, The Netherlands (Prof. Frank Lobbezoo)
  • Department of Dentistry, Oral Pathology and Maxillo-Facial Surgery, Catholic University of Leuven, Leuven, Belgium (Prof. Antoon De Laat)
  • Department of Oral Anatomy and Physiology, Stomatological College, The Fourth Military Medical University, Xi’an, China (Prof. Meiqing Wang)
  • Department of Prosthodontics, School of Stomatology, Peking University, Beijing, China (Prof. Qiufei Xie)
  • Department of Oral and Maxillofacial Surgery, Aalborg Hospital (Head, Bjarne Neumann-Jensen)
  • The University of Electronic of Science and Technology of China (Pro. Dezhong Yao)
  • Nihon University school of dentistry, Tokyo, Japan (Assoc. Prof. Osamu Komiyama)


Fredrik Bajers Vej 7D, 2-115