Hargreaves takes reins of endodontics
Pain is the main reason patients seek emergency dental treatment, and fear of pain is a major barrier preventing patients from seeking routine care, said Kenneth M. Hargreaves, DDS, PhD, professor and new chairman of the department of endodontics.
"The Health Science Center has one of the largest departments of endodontics in the country and a strong reputation for clinical studies," Dr. Hargreaves said. "Since many patients still think of root canals and pain as synonymous, one of the things I would like to do here is to complement the clinical side of our program by adding to the research side, specifically in pain management.
"Pain management has been revised during the last several years," Dr. Hargreaves said. "This is an ongoing area of research, and very effective strategies have been developed for managing many forms of acute pain."
Pain caused by inflammation produces a distinctly different sensation from pain induced by transient noxious stimuli, such as touching the tooth with a dental instrument during an examination. To control either type, however, the dentist must customize the patientís treatment plan, balancing the general principles of endodontics and the mechanisms of hyperalgesia (a condition that magnifies pain perception) with the patientís medical history, nature of the pain and current medications taken by the patient.
"A common example of hyperalgesia is sunburn," Dr. Hargreaves said. "Drugs used to block pain in hyperalgesia may offer new advances in the control of endodontic pain.
"Research in pain mechanisms and teaching methods of pain management are important since they will lead to better techniques for diagnosis and treatment," Dr. Hargreaves added.
Before coming to the Health Science Center, Dr. Hargreaves was associated for well over a decade with the neurology and anesthesiology branch of the National Institute of Dental Research, and later the University of Minnesota as professor in the departments of endodontics and pharmacology.
He received his DDS from the Georgetown University School of Dentistry in Washington, D.C., and his PhD from the Uniformed Services University Health Science Center in Bethesda, Md.
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