For many years, the field of orofacial pain was not a recognized specialty by the American Dental Association. This fact made it difficult for patients who suffered from orofacial and TMJ pain problems to get proper treatment.
Equally difficult was dentists and dental specialists often had a hard time finding practitioners to refer their patients to. Practitioners who had the experience and skills to assess and manage these problematic and sometimes disabling pain conditions.
Though Orofacial Pain Academies and the American Board of Orofacial Pain consistently urged the American Dental Association (the ADA) to designate Orofacial Pain as a board-certified specialty, for a variety of reasons, their repetitive efforts were met with defeat.
As a result, orofacial pain practitioners were left to take on the challenges of treating patients with facial and jaw pain (TMJ), knowing that the people in leadership at the ADA had not yet grasped the importance and professional value of this initiative.
Despite these setbacks, the push to create this new specialty was never abandoned. So, today I’m happy to announce that as of March 31, 2020, the American Dental Associations’ National Commission on Specialty Status has finally approved a new dental specialty, Orofacial Pain! (To see the full definition, scroll down)
What This Means For Patients
With time, I expect to see more dental schools expanding their commitment to teaching the concepts of Orofacial Pain assessment and treatment. As a result, more dentists will graduate familiar with the pain problems they will encounter in their practices, including TMJ.
And over time, graduating dentists will pursue careers in Orofacial Pain and fill voids that currently exist in communities throughout our nation and the world.
It’s too early to predict the full outcome of this important new designation, but I’m hopeful that people who are suffering will find it easier to get the treatment they so desperately need.
If you have questions about Orofacial Pain or TMJ, please feel free to reach out to me.
Onward and upward!
The Full Definition of the Orofacial Pain Specialty
The specialty of Orofacial Pain (OFP) “involves the assessment, diagnosis and treatment of patients with orofacial pain disorders, including temporomandibular muscle and joint (TMJ) disorders, oromotor and jaw behavior disorders, neuropathic and neurovascular pain disorders, and related head and neck pain, as well as expanding our knowledge of the underlying cause and mechanisms of these disorders. This specialty also includes screening, management, and coordination of care associated with sleep-related breathing disorders.”