LEXINGTON, Ky. (April 20, 2017) – In 1974, Dr. Jeffrey Okeson began teaching students about occlusion, the relationship between upper and lower teeth, at the University of Kentucky College of Dentistry. At the time, the predominant belief in the dental community was that facial pain was caused by a misalignment of a patient’s occlusion or bite. After finding that only some patients’ pain was relieved after adjustment, Okeson established the Orofacial Pain Clinic in 1977.
After witnessing that some patients’ pain didn’t improve after treatment, Okeson decided adjusting a patients’ occlusion was not a go-to method to resolve facial pain. Moving away from this standard practice was revolutionary at the time – but UKCD leadership was supportive of becoming home to the first university-based orofacial pain clinic in the nation.
After the creation of the clinic, a graduate program was established and became the first nationally-accredited program by the Postgraduate Education Committee of the American Academy of Orofacial Pain, as well as one of the first programs accredited by the Commission on Dental Accreditation.
“Pain crosses all boundaries; every specialty of dentistry deals with some types of pain. Every specialty of medicine deals with some type of pain,” Okeson said.
As one of 12 accredited programs in the United States teaching evidence-based information on pain, UKCD remains a driving force of furthering the study and treatment of orofacial pain. Okeson said, “Now each spring, we have 15 clinicians from different medical and dental specialties come to the clinic and speak with our residents about pain, from oral surgery to neurology to interventional pain management.”
The 40th anniversary, and leadership provided by its faculty and staff, will be celebrated Friday, April 21, during a continuing education course from 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. at the Marriott Griffin Gate Resort, located at 1800 Newtown Pike, Lexington.
Attendees will hear from graduates of the UK Orofacial Pain Program including, Romulo Albuquerque, DDS, MD, PhD; Peter Bertrand, DDS; John F. Johnson, DDS, MS; Gary Klasser, DMD; Pei Feng Lim, BDS, MS; and Matthew E. B. Russell, MS.