Orofacial Pain Dentistry is concerned with the prevention, evaluation, diagnosis, treatment, and management of persistent and recurrent orofacial pain disorders. The American Dental Association, through the Commission on Dental Accreditation (CODA), now recognizes Orofacial Pain as an area of advanced education in Dentistry. It is mandated by CODA that postgraduate orofacial pain programs be designed to provide advanced knowledge and skills beyond those of the standard curriculum leading to the DDS or DMD degrees. Postgraduate programs in orofacial pain must include specific curricular content to comply with CODA standards. The intent of CODA standards is to assure that training programs develop specific educational goals and objectives that describe the student/resident’s expected knowledge and skills upon successful completion of the program. A standardized core curriculum, required for accreditation of dental orofacial pain training programs, has now been adopted.1
Among the various topics mandated in the curriculum are pharmacology and, specifically, pharmacotherapeutics.2
The American Academy of Orofacial Pain (AAOP) recommends, and the American Board of Orofacial Pain (ABOP) requires, that the minimally competent orofacial pain dentist* be knowledgeable in the management of orofacial pain conditions using medications when indicated. Basic knowledge of the appropriate use of pharmacotherapeutics is essential for the orofacial pain dentist and, therefore, constitutes part of the examination specifications of the ABOP.
The minimally competent orofacial pain clinician must demonstrate knowledge, diagnostic skills, and treatment expertise in many areas, such as musculoskeletal, neurovascular, and neuropathic pain syndromes; sleep disorders related to orofacial pain; orofacial dystonias; and intraoral, intracranial, extracranial, and systemic disorders that cause orofacial pain or dysfunction. The orofacial pain dentist has the responsibility to diagnose and treat patients in pain that is often chronic, multifactorial, and complex. Failure to understand pain mechanisms can lead to inaccurate diagnoses and ineffective, delayed, or harmful treatment. It is the responsibility of the orofacial pain dentist to accurately diagnose the cause(s) of the pain and decide if treatment should be dentally, medically, or psychologically oriented, or if optimal management requires a combination of all three treatment approaches. Management may consist of a number of interdisciplinary modalities including, eg, physical medicine, behavioral medicine, and pharmacology or, in rare instances, surgical interventions.
Among the essential armamentarium is the knowledge and proper use of pharmacologic agents.2–4