Dental Schools Partner to Offer Orofacial Pain Certificate

Dentistry Today


The Herman Ostrow School of Dentistry at the University of Southern California (USC) has teamed up with Trinity College Dublin Dental University Hospital and School of Dental Science to launch a hybrid online and on-campus certificate program in orofacial pain.

“Trinity College is the top college in Ireland, and it is a highly respected educational institution that is listed among the top 100 universities in the world,” said Glenn Clark, DDS, MS, Ostrow’s assistant dean for distance education and director of the school’s orofacial pain program.

“We are pleased that the Dublin Dental University Hospital/School of Science is a friend and a partner,” Clark said.

Set to begin in January 2021, the one-year postgraduate certificate program will include a mix of hands-on training at Trinity College with online didactic instruction, including weekly live webinar sessions with faculty and other residents, video lectures, and quizzes, provided by Ostrow.

“Professor Clark and his team have developed an educational content and format, which is the envy of many other universities and dental schools,” said Dermot Canavan, BDentSc, MGDS, MS, an orofacial pain expert at Dublin Dental University Hospital who will be lead instructor in the certificate program.

“Professor Clark is a world authority in the area of orofacial pain, having made exceptional contributions to the discipline. His commitment and dedication, coupled with an innovative educational approach, makes him and his team a great fit for this collaboration,” said Michael O’Sullivan, BDS, MSc, PhD, associate professor of dental science at the Trinity School of Dental Science.

Once residents complete the one-year certificate program, they can join USC’s three-year online master’s degree program in orofacial pain and oral medicine during its second year. The certificate is equal to one year’s study in the master’s program.

As with Ostrow’s other distance learning programs, hybrid online and on-campus programs allow practicing dentists to further their education and open new professional doors without having to leave the workforce, the school said.

“Our ideal student is one who knows what they want,” Clark said. “They may be early, middle, or even later career dentists who are seeking a change and are usually very inspired to pursue training in the orofacial pain discipline.”

Orofacial pain practitioners treat more than 300 mouth and face diseases, Ostrow said, including temporomandibular dysfunction, sleep apnea, and orofacial pain. The program will help raise the profile of orofacial pain in a new area of the world, Ostrow added, which could improve outcomes for dental patients in the European Union.

“There is a very small number of practitioners in the area of orofacial pain, both in Ireland and Europe,” said O’Sullivan. “The outcome of increased educational opportunities will be greater availability of care for patients and an increased range of skills within the dental community.”

The program also gives USC an opportunity to continue to expand the availability of its online education roster, Ostrow said, which includes master’s degrees and certificate programs in orofacial pain and oral medicine, pain medicine, geriatric dentistry, and community oral health. There is a certificate program in oral pathology and radiology as well.

“Our goal at USC is to bring this approach to postgraduate education to new audiences and maybe have a hand in setting the standards for how online education in dentistry should be done,” Clark said.

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