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Keywords:

  • pain;
  • genetics;
  • pain sensitivity;
  • chronic pain;
  • orofacial pain

Pain represents the major motivating factor for which individuals seek healthcare, and pain responses are characterized by substantial inter-individual differences. Increasing evidence suggests that genetic factors contribute significantly to individual differences in responses to both clinical and experimental pain. The purpose of this review article was to summarize the current literature regarding genetic contributions to pain, highlighting findings relevant to oral pain where available. A brief discussion of methodologic considerations is followed by a review of findings regarding genetic influences on clinical pain. Next, the literature examining genetic contributions to experimental pain responses is presented, emphasizing genetic associations that have been replicated in multiple cohorts. It is hoped that an enhanced understanding of genetic contributions to pain responses will ultimately improve diagnosis and treatment of clinical pain conditions.