Broad support evident for the emerging specialty of orofacial pain.

R. L. Talley, J. R. Fricton, J. P. Okeson

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

3 Scopus citations


The emerging field of Orofacial Pain is being considered by the American Dental Association for full status as a new dental specialty. Many recent advances in the neuroscience of orofacial pain have lead to treatments by orofacial pain dentists that provide significant relief for patients with chronic orofacial pain disorders. However, access to this care has been limited leaving many patients to continue to suffer. Subsequently, recent efforts to improve this by developing the field into a specialty have shown broad support among dentists and increased awareness of the benefits this field can provide for dentists and their patients. A recent survey of 805 individuals in the general population who reported having a persistent pain disorder revealed that more than four out of 10 people have yet to find adequate relief, saying their pain is out of control-despite having the pain for more than 5 years and switching doctors at least once. "This survey suggests that there are millions of people living with severe uncontrolled pain," says Russell Portenoy, MD, President of the American Pain Society. "This is a great tragedy. Although not everyone can be helped, it is very likely that most of these patients could benefit if provided with state-of-the-art therapies and improved access to pain specialists when needed." (1). Development of the field of Orofacial Pain into a dental specialty has been motivated primarily by this issue; patients with complex chronic orofacial pain disorders have not been historically treated well by any discipline of health care. Recent studies of chronic orofacial pain patients have found that these patients have a high number of previous clinicians and have endured many years with pain prior to seeing an orofacial pain dentist (2) (Fig. 1). Complex pain patients and the clinicians who see them are often confused about whom they should consult for relief of the painful disorder. Treatment for these patients within the existing structure of dental or medical specialties has been inadequate and millions of patients are left suffering. Insurers are also confused with regard to reimbursement and make decisions to exclude treatment for orofacial pain disorders under both dental and medical policies. However, Dentistry has taken a leading role in health care to address this national problem by developing the field of Orofacial Pain into a dental specialty. A study of dentists and dental specialists have shown that there is a recognized need and broad support for further development of this field into a new dental specialty(3).

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)14-17
Number of pages4
JournalJournal - Oklahoma Dental Association
Issue number1
StatePublished - 2000

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Medicine


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