Objectives: Evaluate the way the topics for the study of pain mechanisms in general, and Orofacial Pain (OFP) and temporomandibular disorders (TMDs) more specifically, are addressed in undergraduate courses curricula, and also to verify the existence of specialist OFP/TMD teachers in Brazilian dental schools.
Methods: Between July 2010 and January 2011, course Coordinators/Directors of all dental schools duly registered at the Ministry of Education were invited to answer a questionnaire on topics related to OFP/TMD teaching in their institutions.
Results: Fifty-three dental schools representatives answered the questionnaire. The study of pain mechanisms was found to cover an average of less than 10% of the courses' total time. Pharmacology, Endodontics and Physiology were identified as the departments usually responsible for addressing pain mechanisms in dental courses. Psychosocial aspects were found to occupy a very small proportion in the syllabi, while most of the content referred to biological or somatic aspects. OFP/TMD is addressed by a specific department in only 28.4% of the participating dental schools, while in most cases (46.3%), OFP/TMD is under the responsibility of the Prosthodontics department. Only 38.5% of respondents indicated that they had a specialist OFP/TMD teacher in their Schools.
Conclusion: Among the Brazilian dental schools participating in the study, the teaching of OFP/TMD was found to be insufficient, segmented or with an extremely restricted focus. This initial assessment indicates that Curricular Guidelines for the study of OFP/TMD at undergraduate dental schools should be developed and implemented to facilitate their appropriate inclusion into the curricula and in specific pedagogical projects.