Book Review: Orofacial Pain: Guidelines for Assessment, Diagnosis, and Management

by Dr. Anthony J. Carter

“Orofacial Pain: Guidelines for Assessment, Diagnosis and Management” is a text produced by the American Academy of Orofacial Pain (AAOP) and is commonly referred to as the “AAOP Guidelines.” It is a comprehensive overview of all aspects related to orofacial pain. A significant portion of the book is dedicated to Temporomandibular Disorders (TMDs), but it also covers other areas that may cause or contribute to orofacial pain.

As this is the fifth edition, four publications preceded this current edition. Prior publications focused primarily on TMDs. As health care professionals and researchers became more aware of the relationship between TMDs and other disorders of the head and neck, there was a need to expand the scope of this guideline. The topics covered in this text include a general assessment of the patient, diagnostic classifications, vascular and nonvascular intracranial causes of pain, primary headache disorders, neuropathic pain, intraoral pain disorders, diagnosis and management of TMDs, cervical disorders, extracranial causes of pain, sleep and the relationship of pain with mental disorders.  

The book is well organized and follows a logical progression through the chapters. At 289 pages, it is a brief but thorough overview of orofacial pain concepts with practical application to clinical dentistry. I especially enjoyed the chapter on diagnosis and management of TMDs, which happens to be the largest chapter in the book. It provides scientifically sound and effective diagnostic procedures and treatment options. The chapter on sleep and its relation to orofacial pain were brief but very interesting. It provides tips to improve patients’ sleep hygiene that I started to use in my personal life. The only suggestion for the next edition would be to include more photos and diagrams. Throughout the text, there is constant reference to vascular, musculoskeletal and neuroanatomy but no images. I had to refer to my atlas of human anatomy as I read the entire book. When discussing anatomy, it is easier to visualize the author’s point with an image.

This is an excellent text that is a great review for all dentists and specialists at any stage of their careers.

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