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Orofacial Pain


Orofacial Pain is the dental specialty concerned with the diagnosis and management of pain and dysfunction of the motor and sensory aspects of the trigeminal nerve system. Previously this area of practice was referred to as temporomandibular disorders (TMDs); however, current evidence indicates that many patients have signs and symptoms outside of the masticatory system that directly affect their orofacial pain complaints. Orofacial Pain practitioners routinely deal with patients whose head, neck, shoulder or systemic conditions masquerade as facial pain. The modern practice of Orofacial Pain requires a distinctly unique blend of knowledge and skills in order to deal with a patient population that frequently "falls between the cracks" of traditional dental and medical practices.


The Orofacial Pain Department offers a five-day continuing education course through the Naval Postgraduate Dental Course.
A 5-hour TMD course is available via Joint Knowledge Online (JKO).
The course number is 1342 (CE version) or 1342R (non-CE version). 
(PDF of Orofacial Pain sick call exam form)
(PDF of TMD Self-Care handout)


In July 2001, the Naval Postgraduate Dental School (NPDS) opened the military’s first Orofacial Pain advanced training program. The program’s curriculum is based on the training guidelines of the American Board of Orofacial Pain and the International Association for the Study of Pain. The 36 month residency/ 24 month fellowship provides participants with a comprehensive understanding of the physiology of pain and offers a wide variety of clinical experiences through both the NPDS Orofacial Pain Center and specialty rotations at the Walter Reed National Military Medical Center.
The general characteristics and goals for training the Orofacial Pain specialist:
  • Become knowledgeable, highly trained clinicians entrustable in the delivery of Orofacial Pain patients with a special focus to the military population.
  • Prepare to serve as mentors in advanced medical and dental educational programs and serve as subject matter experts concerning chronic pain patients.
  • Learn to critically evaluate current literature and provide opportunity to participate in research activities.
Upon successful completion of the residency/fellowship, individuals are eligible to challenge the American Board of Orofacial Pain. Successful graduates of the program are embedded in various positions through the Defense Health Agency to include large military treatment facilities world-wide, pain clinics, or in positions of academia or leadership.

The Orofacial Pain program accepts one to three individuals per year and is open to all Active Duty dental officers. For further information about the Orofacial Pain residency contact us at (301) 295-1495.

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