J Dent Anesth Pain Med.  2017 Dec;17(4):253-263. 10.17245/jdapm.2017.17.4.253.

Pain measurement in oral and maxillofacial surgery

  • 1Department of Oral and Maxillofacial Surgery, Faculty of Dentistry, Mahidol University, Bangkok, Thailand. natthamet.won@mahidol.ac.th


Regardless of whether it is acute or chronic, the assessment of pain should be simple and practical. Since the intensity of pain is thought to be one of the primary factors that determine its effect on a human's overall function and sense, there are many scales to assess pain. The aim of the current article was to review pain intensity scales that are commonly used in dental and oral and maxillofacial surgery (OMFS). Previous studies demonstrated that multidimensional scales, such as the McGill Pain Questionnaire, Short form of the McGill Pain Questionnaire, and Wisconsin Brief Pain Questionnaire were suitable for assessing chronic pain, while unidimensional scales, like the Visual Analogue Scales (VAS), Verbal descriptor scale, Verbal rating scale, Numerical rating Scale, Faces Pain Scale, Wong-Baker Faces Pain Rating Scale (WBS), and Full Cup Test, were used to evaluate acute pain. The WBS is widely used to assess pain in children and elderly because other scales are often difficult to understand, which could consequently lead to an overestimation of the pain intensity. In dental or OMFS research, the use of the VAS is more common because it is more reliable, valid, sensitive, and appropriate. However, some researchers use NRS to evaluate OMFS pain in adults because this scale is easier to use than VAS and yields relatively similar pain scores. This review only assessed pain scales used for post-operative OMFS or dental pain.


McGill Pain Scale; Oral and Maxillofacial Pain; Pain Measurement; Toothache; Visual Analogue Pain Scale

MeSH Terms

Acute Pain
Chronic Pain
Pain Measurement*
Subject Headings
Surgery, Oral*
Weights and Measures


  • Fig. 1 Modified of McGill Pain Questionnaire. The McGill Pain Questionnaire. The descriptors fall into four major groups: sensory (S), 1–10; affective (A), 11–15; evaluative (E), 16; and miscellaneous (M), 17–20. The rank value for each descriptor is based on its position in the word set. The sum of the rank values is the pain rating index (PRI). The present pain intensity (PPI) is based on a scale of 0–5.

  • Fig. 2 The visual analog scale (VAS).

  • Fig. 3 Heft-Parker visual analog scale (HPS).

  • Fig. 4 Numerical rating Scale (NRS) [14].

  • Fig. 5 Faces Pain Scale (FPS) (modified of Faces Pain Scale) [15].Top: Faces Pain Scale scored 0 to 6. Bottom: Faces Pain Scale-Revised, scored 0-2-4-6-8-10 (or 0-1-2-3-4-5).

  • Fig. 6 Wong-Baker Faces Pain Rating Scale (WBS) (modified Wong-Baker Faces Pain Rating Scale) [16].

  • Fig. 7 Full Cup Test [18].

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