Member Spotlight Fall 2022

Isabel Moreno Hay, DDS, PhD
Dr. Moreno Hay works in Lexington, KY and specializes in General Dentistry
1) How did you get interested in the field of Orofacial Pain?

I was first introduced to the field of Temporomandibular Disorders (TMD) by my mentors in dental school at the University Complutense of Madrid (Spain). Like in many other dental schools worldwide, the number of hours of education dedicated to TMD in the curriculum is limited, and usually taught by faculty under other specialty departments such as orthodontics, oral surgery, and in my case, it was under the department of prosthodontics. Despite the limited time dedicated to temporomandibular disorders, during my last year of dental school, I not only received a very interesting lecture from a nationally renowned expert in the field, but I was also awarded the second place to the best oral presentation in the topic of MRI imaging of the TMJ.

Thanks to the encouragement of my mentors, I decided to pursue a PhD program focusing on the study of the electromyographic activity of masticatory muscles and I started to attend national meetings from the Spanish Academy of Craniomandibular Dysfunction (SEDCYDO) and international meetings such as the European Academy of Craniomandibular Disorders (EACD). During my PhD program, I was granted the opportunity to complete two international stages to further develop my research project. On my first international stage, I spent three months at the University of Marseille (France) learning about temporomandibular disorders and its relationship to the functions of the masticatory system.

On my second international stage, I travelled to the United States and completed a two-month stage at the Orofacial Pain Program at the University of Kentucky. My stage at the University of Kentucky allowed me to understand that the Specialty of Orofacial Pain is broader than just temporomandibular disorders, and that as a dentist we can make a significant impact in the quality of life of patients that suffer from different orofacial pain conditions, including temporomandibular disorders, neuropathic pain conditions, headaches, movement disorders and sleep disorders.

For all these reasons, I am very grateful to all the mentors that I have encountered and have helped me shape my career: Dr. Teresa Sanchez Sanchez, Dr. Ignacio Ardizone Garcia, Dr. Jaime del Rio Highsmith (Department of Prosthodontics, University Complutense of Madrid); Dr. Jose Luis de la Hoz (past president of SEDCYDO); Dr. Jean Daniel Orthlieb (University of Marseille); Dr. Jeffrey P. Okeson, Dr. Reny De Leeuw, Dr. Charley Carlson, Dr. John Lindroth, Dr. Elizangela Bertoli and Dr. Don Falace (Division of Orofacial Pain, University of Kentucky).

2) How do you feel that the field of Orofacial pain has evolved over the years?

Since I obtained my certificate in Orofacial Pain at the University of Kentucky a decade ago, I have been privileged to witness important milestones for the field of Orofacial Pain. The most relevant one has been the recognition of Orofacial Pain as the twelfth specialty dental specialty by the ADA in 2020 (official press release).

This recognition will hopefully have a significant impact in the next coming years on improving care for patients suffering from orofacial pain disorders. Currently, the access to care of patients is quite limited, and on many occasions, they need to travel long distances to be seen by an orofacial pain dentist. At the Orofacial Pain Center at the University of Kentucky we see on a regular basis patients that will travel from nearby states because they could not find an orofacial pain expert locally. The recognition as a specialty will contribute to an expansion on the number of dentists specialized in Orofacial Pain.

As the Program Director since 2019, I have observed that the number of applications of dentists interested in orofacial pain has grown exponentially in the last few years.

Additionally, the specialty status ratifies an evidence-based approach to orofacial pain.

3) The most challenging and rewarding aspects of caring for patients with Chronic Pain?

Being able to restore the function and improve the quality of life of patients suffering from chronic pain is one of the most rewarding aspects in the practice of pain management. On the other hand, the most challenging aspect is to accept as a clinician that in chronic pain conditions, we can help with pain management but rarely we will be able to cure the patient.

This is not only challenging for clinicians, but also for patients that might have the expectation that a medical or dental intervention will provide total pain relief. Thus, education about patient’s pain condition and management is an important aspect of patient care.

4) What advice do you have for the members who are starting their carrier in field of Orofacial Pain? Suggest some resources that were helpful to you.

For anyone interested in the field of Orofacial Pain, I would strongly recommend attending the annual meetings by the American Academy of Orofacial Pain.

The first AAOP meeting that I attended was in 2010. I encountered an amazing group of clinicians and researchers with whom I shared a common interest. As a young clinician I was very impressed by the high quality of the lectures, and by the opportunity to meet in person the leaders in the field. Everyone in the academy made me feel welcomed and throughout the years I have developed great friendships.

5) What do you like to do in your free time?

I like to spend my free time with my family. We have a beautiful baby boy Nicolas who is 15 months old, and two four legged babies, Rahner and Bella.

One of my biggest passions is to travel. I really enjoy discovering new places and learning about other cultures. Unfortunately, with the recent pandemic we have not had the opportunity to travel as much as before.

Another passion of mine is to be able to spend quality of time with friends. I believe that friends are our ‘chosen family.’ I am also a big fan of movies, especially European cinema; and for self-care, I enjoy practicing yoga, taking my dogs on walks, and hiking the beautiful trails that Kentucky has to offer.

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