Dentistry Awards First Alumnus Award

Contact: Amy Gilliam

Photo of Jeffrey P. Okeson
Jeffrey P. Okeson

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Okeson has published more than 180 articles in the area of occlusion, tempromandibular disorders, and orofacial pain in various national and international journals. In 1985 he completed the definitive text on the subject, "Management of Temporomandibular Disorders and Occlusions," now in its fifth edition.

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LEXINGTON, Ky. (Nov. 3, 2004) -- The University of Kentucky College of Dentistry Alumni Association Board of Directors recently awarded Dr. Jeffrey P. Okeson, professor and chairman, UK College of Dentistry, Department of Oral Health Science, and director, UK Orofacial Pain Center , the first-ever Distinguished Alumnus Award. The award is the highest honor that the College of Dentistry Alumni Association can bestow.

"The board was actually faced with multiple nominees who have made highly significant contributions to our profession, but today's recipient stood out significantly above the others," said Dr. Sharon P. Turner, dean, UK College of Dentistry. "The high standard that we intended to set was easily met by Dr. Okeson. He constantly strives to learn new things, translate knowledge to students, study new ways to treat patients, and publish his findings in journals so that others can read and learn when they are not able to sit in the room as he lectures."

The award is based on loyalty to the college, excellence in the profession of dentistry, recognition from peers for reaching the pinnacle of their field of dentistry, and evidence of merit of work in their field and in community leadership.

Okeson began his dental education at the UK College of Dentistry in 1969 after graduating from Eastern Kentucky University . After graduation from UK , he attended a rotating dental internship with the Indian Health Service (USPH) and then joined the faculty of the college in 1974 where he has remained to this day.

Okeson has published more than 180 articles in the area of occlusion, tempromandibular disorders, and orofacial pain in various national and international journals. In 1985 he completed the definitive text on the subject, "Management of Temporomandibular Disorders and Occlusions," now in its fifth edition. This book is used in most of the dental schools in the United States as well as many other countries, and has been translated into eight foreign languages. In addition, he authored the fifth and sixth editions of Welden E. Bell's "Orofacial Pains," which is used in orofacial pain programs throughout the world.

On the clinical front, convinced that there was a huge need for a specific clinical area to address the unique problems of patients with chronic orofacial pain, Okeson developed a clinic for patients with tempromandibular joint disorders at the UK College of Dentistry in 1977. In 1989 it became one of the first full-time residency programs in orofacial pain in the entire country. His multidisciplinary approach, which draws upon the expertise of psychologists, physical therapists, and many other provider types, became a prototypical model throughout the country. Today, patients are referred from all over the state, the nation and abroad to this clinic. Visitors come from all over the world as well to observe in his clinic or participate in "mini residency" training programs to improve their ability to help patients.

"His teaching evaluations are among the best in the college, and he is known among the students for his willingness to take time to explain complex concepts in ways that they can understand," Turner said. "His graduate students come from all over the world."

The recognition consisted of an individual award as well as a plaque that will be hung in the college to which names of successive winners will be added.

Established in 1962, the UK College of Dentistry has a national and international reputation for its dynamic and innovative approaches to dental education.

The college offers the Doctor of Dental Medicine degree, as well as postdoctoral programs in six fields of study: general practice dentistry, oral and maxillofacial surgery, orofacial pain, orthodontics, pediatric dentistry, and periodontics.


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