UW School of Dentistry


Acute and Chronic Orofacial Pain

Earl Sommers

1 Credit / Quarter 10 (Winter, Third Year)

Course Description

Essential knowledge and skills for diagnosis and treatment of acute and chronic pain, and those non-dental disorders which cause orofacial pain. Focuses on general factors important to understanding pain and pain disorders other than those directly involving the dental structures.

Educational Objectives

The student will gain knowledge about signs and symptoms of head and neck pain disorders, their etiology and pathophysiology, and management protocol. The objective will be for the student to be able to (1) take a case and define needed data; (2) establish a differential diagnosis; (3) provide appropriate tests; (4) establish a definitive diagnosis; (5) provide for appropriate management; and (7) describe treatment risks.

Course Outline

Lecture topics include: pain mechanisms; chronic vs. acute pain; vascular and muscular disorders; neurological disorders; and oral pain disorders.

Course Expectations

To successfully meet the requirements of this course, the student is expected to attend lectures and solve unknown cases and demonstrate her/his understanding of the lecture topics through completion and discussion of five unknown cases and a final examination.

Effective Winter Quarter 2007, completion of on-line course evaluation is a requirement of this course. Failure to comply will result in an “Incomplete” grade being assigned.

Competencies Addressed

  • UWSOD Competency 1: Examine a patient using contemporary diagnostic methods to evaluate the head and neck region and to reach a diagnosis of the patient’s oral and craniofacial health status.
  • UWSOD Competency 4: Provide patient education in the prevention of oral diseases to promote oral and general health.
  • UWSOD Competency 5: Recognize the limits of their expertise and seek consultation with other health care providers to facilitate patient care.
  • UWSOD Competency 6: Manage acute and chronic orofacial and dental pain.
  • UWSOD Competency 22: Utilize critical thinking in assessing technical and scientific information for use in identifying patient needs and treatments.
  • UWSOD Competency 25: Manage a diverse patient population and have the interpersonal and communication skills to function successfully in a multicultural work environment.


  • Guidelines for Assessment, Diagnosis, and Management, Okeson
  • Handouts

*last updated: 11/7/2011