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Orofacial Pain Approved As A Dental Specialty

Author: Donald Tanenbaum DDS MPH - Board-Certified Orofacial Pain Specialist at New York TMJ & Orofacial Pain

Date: April 13, 2020

To My Professional Colleagues,

For years I have purposely avoided using the designation, Orofacial Pain Specialist, to describe what I do. However, on March 31, 2020 the ADA Committee of the National Commission on Specialty Status approved the new dental specialty, Orofacial Pain. Orofacial Pain Specialists will therefore be board-certified dental specialists, who limit their care to patients with orofacial pain disorders.

I am proud to now hold this distinction, and continue to feel privileged to care for your patients with these pain disorders. I also look forward to being a part of any developing regional initiatives to train dentists who have a desire to enhance their knowledge, or who may be enticed to pursue a career as an Orofacial Pain practitioner.

This achievement of specialty status was not easy.  The end result is a culmination of over 30 years of effort by the American Academy of Orofacial Pain, its past and present leadership, and countless council and committee members. As a result, Orofacial Pain is now the 12th recognized specialty of the ADA’s National Commission on Recognition of Dental Specialties and Certifying Boards.

From a broad perspective, 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.”

It is my hope that this specialty recognition will lead to increased dental school initiatives to educate students, a more complete grasp of the complexity of orofacial pain problems amongst practicing dentists, and most importantly. increased access to care for patients who are suffering.


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