I would like to share with you some very exciting news regarding specialty status of Orofacial Pain. In January, a court case was settled in the State of Texas. The case involved a complaint of violation of the First Amendment (freedom of speech) involving five dental subspecialties. The court case began several years ago but took on a more serious nature in January of 2015. The American Academy of Orofacial Pain is one of the five organizations who brought the suit against the State of Texas. I testified before the State Attorney General in January 2015 on behalf of the American Academy of Orofacial Pain
The complaint of the five organizations is really against the American Dental Association. Even though I am a strong supporter of organized dentistry and of the American Dental Association, I feel that the process of awarding specialty status to other fields of dentistry has become extremely politicized over the years. Since 1994, the American Academy of Orofacial Pain has been trying to obtain specialty status from the ADA. We have spent close to $1 million, to date, on attempts which now have become numerous.
In 1997, we formed the American Board of Orofacial Pain. In fact, I was a member of the founding Board of Orofacial Pain. This is an exam similar to the Princeton Review. Those of us who were founding members actually took the same board that medical doctors take for Pain Medicine. Once we had passed that board we now became certified through Princeton Review to write the Board of Orofacial Pain that a dentist would take for specialty status. The board was one of the “keystone” requirements for ADA specialty status. With the board in place, we made application to the American Dental Association and were immediately turned down because we had not “fulfilled all of the ADA requirements.” We attempted to file again and were again told that we had not fulfilled all of the ADA requirements. Each time that we have presented an application we have received virtually the same the response from the ADA.
Out of frustration, the 5 organizations considered forming an American Board of Dental Specialties which would mimic the American Board of Medical Specialties which is the body within medicine that confers specialty status. This is a long and tedious process and one which will require a concerted effort on the part of all parties involved.
In the meantime, we, as a group, felt that it was restrictive on the part of the State of Texas to not allow those of us with the Board certification to be able to tell the public that we had specialty training beyond the traditional dental school education and had passed a board of certification. That was the nature of the lawsuit. It was filed in state court under the protection of the First Amendment, freedom of speech. The judge heard the case and ruled in favor of the five groups. We still are in the appeal stage, so I’m not certain how this is going to play out. However, I am most encouraged that in the near future Dr. Pettit and I will be able to actually notify the public on our website that we are specialists in Orofacial Pain. This will also include our letterhead as well as business cards.
I know that there will be a lot of negative press regarding this lawsuit. Already, there have been attacks from the American Dental Association. However I do see some positive things which are coming through the ADA, so it may be easier for us to obtain specialty status without having to form the American Board of Dental Specialties.
As you can see Dr. Pettit and I are constantly trying to keep you up-to-date on important issues. We want your experience with us to be the very best in every way. Your care is our greatest concern.
Ronald C. Auvenshine, DDS, PhD