The Department of Neural and Pain Sciences offers the traditional courses in anatomy, neuroscience, pain and analgesia, pharmacology, and physiology that are part of the curriculum for dental students. A description of those courses follows:
The course in human anatomy is devoted to the study of the structure and function of the body using a regional approach with an emphasis on functional and clinical relevance. It includes the study of the organs and muscles with their relationships, arterial supply, venous and lymphatic drainage, and innervation. Principles of body structure and function are studied with particular emphasis on the head and neck and major organ systems. A strong effort is made to correlate anatomy with other courses in the basic and clinical sciences of the dental curriculum.
The neuroscience course includes a study of neuronal activity and functions ranging from molecular events to neuronal circuitry and neurophysiology. The activities of the nervous system presented include: nociception, discriminative touch and proprioception, special senses, somatic motor control and higher cortical functions. Clinical correlations and therapies are discussed to illustrate the importance of understanding the basis of these functions of the nervous system.
The program of instruction in pain and analgesia is a required course for second year dental students and serves as the basis for translational research conferences for second and third year students. The didactic portion is divided into three sections: the neurobiology of pain, science of acute and chronic pain conditions, and diagnosis and treatment of orofacial pain conditions. This is an intensive course emphasizing the latest theories of mechanisms underlying acute and chronic pain. The translational research conferences emulate a clinical situation in which a patient complains of orofacial pain simultaneously experiencing other medical/dental conditions. Students must differentiate signs/ symptoms leading to differential diagnoses and present a tentative treatment plan all the while emphasizing the underlying neurobiology of pain in diagnoses and treatment. The goal is to have students utilize their basic science knowledge as the foundation for diagnosis and treatment of craniofacial disorders.