Overview & Curriculum

Course Sequence

During the first summer of graduate study, the academic program in Orofacial Pain focuses on several areas: acquisition of solid research skills, introduction to anatomy of the head and neck, physical evaluation, and overview of the theory and principles of orofacial pain. The didactic coursework is as follows:

  • Head and Neck Anatomy
  • Physical Diagnosis and Evaluation
  • Seminars in Orofacial Pain
  • Principles of Research in Orofacial Pain (Current Literature)
  • Orofacial Pain Clinic

During the following semesters, students take more in-depth courses related to orofacial pain, as well as continue with additional coursework in related areas. They continue to work in literature review and orofacial pain seminars in each semester and will take thesis credits.

  • Seminars in Orofacial Pain
  • Current Literature in TMJ and Orofacial Pain
  • Advanced Orofacial Pain Clinic
  • Thesis credits

Other courses include:

  • Clinical Interviewing (Year 1)
  • Methods in Research and Writing (Fall, Year 1)
  • Teaching and Evaluation in Dentistry (Spring, Year 1)
  • Psychological Issues in Orofacial Pain (Fall, Year 1)
  • Neurobiology of Pain and Analgesia (every two years)
  • Advanced Topics in Orofacial Pain (Spring, every two years)
  • Biostatistics (Summer Year 2)
  • Principles of Management in Health Services Organizations (Fall Year 2)
  • Orofacial Pain Private Practice

All students will be attending the Orofacial Pain Clinic during each semester of both two years. Rotations through other clinics are arranged during the summer and fall of the second year of study and are part of the clinic course in Orofacial Pain.

The clinic course is a major course for all students. Students spend 4 full days per week in the clinic. They mostly observe patients and faculty members during the first summer. During this time they work on clinical interviewing skill acquisition, head and neck examination skills, gaining solid diagnostic skills. They will also begin to work with splints (insertion and adjustment), physical medicine techniques, health psychology and pharmacotherapy.

In the fall of the first year, students will begin seeing their own patients, supervised by faculty. At this time, they must begin keeping track of patients seen and procedures performed in order to acquire the number and types of experiences necessary to meet program standards. 

Conditions managed in OFP Clinic

The knowledge base includes diagnosis and management of:

  • Neuropathic orofacial pain disorders such as trigeminal neuralgia, atypical facial pain and burning mouth syndrome,
  • Primary headache disorders such as tension type and migraine headaches,
  • Other neurovascular disorders such as cluster headache, hemicranias continua and medication overuse headache,
  • Chronic regional pain syndromes (I and II),
  • Masticatory, cervical, and upper shoulder neuromuscular and musculoskeletal disorders such as myofascial pain, muscle spasm, and contracture,
  • Temporomandibular joint disorders such as arthralgia, disk displacement and arthritis,
  • Pain and dysfunction secondary to orofacial trauma, cancer and AIDS and it’s treatment,
  • Orofacial dyskinesias and dystonias,
  • Sleep disordered breathing such as obstructive sleep apnea, UARS and snoring,
  • Other disorders causing persistent pain and dysfunction of the orofacial region

Services provided include:

  • Complete clinical history
  • Complete head and neck examination
  • Imaging and laboratory technique and interpretation
  • Differential diagnosis of orofacial pain disorders
  • Behavioral and psychosocial assessment and diagnosis
  • Interdisciplinary treatment planning
  • Diagnostic and treatment procedures including:

a. craniofacial nerve blocks
b. intramuscular trigger point injections in the masticatory, head and neck muscles
c. physical medicine modalities, therapeutic exercises, and orthotics
d. cognitive-behavioral management strategies,
e. pharmacotherapy and chemical abuse management
f. coordination of interdisciplinary and multidisciplinary management strategies

Extramural Rotations

Second-year residents spend part of their clinical training in extramural facilities completing rotations. The following is a list of rotations for the Orofacial Pain Residents:

  • Otolaryngology
  • Rheumatology
  • Chronic Pain Service, Neurology and Acupuncture
  • Sleep Medicine
  • Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation
  • Neurology
  • Oral and Maxillofacial Surgery
  • Outpatient Anesthesiology


All students are required to engage in research activity. Students who elect to enter the Master of Science Degree Program are expected to develop the study idea, work through the data collection and/or analyses, present their findings at a public defense, and submit for publication in an appropriate scientific journal.

They are also required to develop and complete an independent research project under the guidance of a thesis committee approved by the University of Minnesota Graduate School. Students not participating in a Graduate School administered degree program are required to either complete their own research project, or participate in research being conducted by the Orofacial Pain Faculty. Students are also encouraged to develop abstracts for presentation at local, state and national meetings.

This portion of the program gives the student:

  • A strong foundation in science and analysis
  • Competency in critique of the written literature in the field of TMD and orofacial pain
  • Competency in research design, methodology and scientific writing


MS Application

Applications will be done through ADEA PASS.

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Program at a glance

Degree: Certificate in Orofacial Pain (usually w/MS)
Duration: 24 months for certificate program
Class size: 2

Application deadline for next class:

Program Director: Shanti Kaimal, BDS, MS
Phone: 612-625-3984

Administrative Specialist: Elizabeth Ivory

Program goals

  • Have an advanced knowledge of anatomical, physiological, behavioral and psychosocial aspects of orofacial pain
  • Understand the biopsychosocial model of pain
  • Participate as a member of interdisciplinary healthcare team
  • Manage the implementation of orofacial pain care services
  • Function effectively in multiple healthcare environments
  • Apply scientific principles to learning and oral health care
  • Have the ability to disseminate knowledge regarding orofacial pain
  • Utilize the values of professional ethics


Currently, the program financially supports two residents per year, for two years in total. The stipend typically covers the majority of residents’ tuition, single coverage medical insurance, and a modest living allowance.

There is no application fee for this program. International students are welcome to apply and eligible for financial support. Financial support is subject to change based on yearly administrative actions; bi-weekly stipend is considered taxable income and is subject to FICA and Medicare withholding.

CODA standards

In February 2013, the Advanced Education Program in Orofacial Pain was granted Initial Accreditation by The Commission on Dental Accreditation (CODA). The program went through a successful reaccreditation process in 2019, with the next accreditation scheduled for 2026. This confirms our continuous dedication and improvement within the following standards:

  • Institutional Effectiveness
  • Educational Program
  • Faculty and Staff
  • Educational Support Services
  • Patient Care Services
  • Research Program

Residents who graduate from our OFP program will be entitled to the academic status and professional benefits gained by completing a CODA-accredited training program.

Minnesota licensure

Orofacial Pain is now a recognized specialty for the ADA's National Commissoin on Recognition of Dental Specialties and Certifying Boards. For questions about how graduating from a CODA-accredited Orofacial Pain program affects licensure requirements, please contact the individual governing authority for the state(s) of interest.

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