Center for Temporomandibular Disorders and Orofacial Pain

Director, Gary M. Heir, DMD

Orofacial pain is an advancing field in dentistry that focuses on the assessment, diagnosis and treatment of complex chronic orofacial pain and dysfunction disorders, motor and jaw behavior disorders, chronic head, neck, and facial pain, and the pursuit of knowledge of the underlying pathophysiology and mechanisms of these disorders. Etiologies of orofacial pain include musculoskeletal structures, headaches, neurogenic disorders, and psychogenic pain, as well as pain from various systemic diseases that may present as orofacial pain symptoms.

Clinicians involved in the management of complex chronic orofacial pain and dysfunction disorders must possess knowledge in the basic and clinical sciences. Therefore, in addition to extensive clinical training, the orofacial pain curriculum includes the study of pain mechanisms, pharmacotherapy of pain, psychological aspects of pain and laboratory medicine. In addition, the evaluation, diagnosis and treatment of orofacial pain often involves a shared responsibility between the dentist and the physician. To that end, our residents rotate through various medical specialty clinics to gain experience with pain associated with systemic diseases. Emphasis is placed on obtaining an accurate diagnosis before considering treatment.

Two training programs are available: One-year Fellowship Program in orofacial Pain and a two year program that combines the clinical fellowship with the Masters Program in Dental Science. Both programs are parallel and specifically designed for the dentist who wishes to gain a scientific background and additional clinical training in the diagnosis and management of patients with orofacial pain. The Master's program requires a research project and thesis.