Shorter days and cooler weather often make this time of year difficult, especially for those with facial pain. Focusing on what we can do to help others can be an immense source of hope that carries us through darker times. It is my honor to serve the Facial Pain Association (FPA) as Chairman of the Board of Directors and to share a short story about how the FPA is making the world a better place for those with neuropathic facial pain.
Over 70% of those with trigeminal neuralgia (TN) or other neuropathic facial pain go to their dentist at the onset of their pain. This is perfectly understandable. The trigeminal nerve that sends the neurological pain message to the brain is the same nerve that sends dental pain signals.
Unfortunately, most dentists cannot provide an accurate diagnosis because they are unfamiliar with neuropathic causes of facial pain. Even worse, according to recent research, half the dentists perform treatments like root canals and tooth extractions, thinking they are addressing a dental problem. The result is that proper diagnosis is delayed, and unnecessary, painful, and expensive dental procedures are often done. This knowledge has ignited our will to address the source of so much suffering.
We embarked on a journey to educate dentists many years ago, petitioning the American Dental Association (ADA) to act by
• Adjusting dental school curriculums
• Adding Continuing Education (CDE) programs with modules addressing neuropathic facial pain
• Allowing FPA to speak and host educational booths at dental conferences
Unfortunately, the bureaucracy of the ADA moves slowly, and little progress was made. These challenges further fueled FPA’s mission to educate dentists about neuropathic facial pain. Last year, with the launch of the FPA’s Dentist Initiative, we adjusted our approach and created a two-pronged strategy.
Education: Dental students and practicing dentists must become educated about neuropathic facial pain, and the FPA has made excellent progress toward that goal with the development of a Continuing Dental Education module.
Awareness: This summer, the FPA began an advertising campaign targeting dentists directly. The message — it takes Exactly Zero tooth extractions to diagnose trigeminal neuralgia. The ad includes information on neuropathic facial pain and directs readers to a new section on the FPA’s website. It has run in two leading industry periodicals since July, reaching over half of the dentists in the US along with 8,000+ dental hygienists.
We are making tremendous progress. Dentists are being educated, and for everyone who has ever received unnecessary dental care, this is a message of hope.
If you have already made a gift – thank you! Your generosity allows us to shine a light on the needs that exist and then actually do something about them. If you haven’t, please consider making a gift TODAY to help us educate more dentists tomorrow.
Chairman, FPA Board of Directors