parker mahanParker Mahan, DDS, PhD (7.11.1927 – 8.1.2010)

Dr. Parker Mahan was one of the most influential academicians and clinicians in facial pain.  He was also one of the finest persons I have ever known, and I am fortunate to have been able to learn from him at the University of Florida Mahan Facial Pain Center in Gainesville.

Until its closure several years ago, the pain center was one of very few places in the country where patients could be examined by a comprehensive medical, dental, physical therapy and psychological team during their initial comprehensive evaluation - on a single day.  Dr. Mahan believed that all disciplines in the health community needed to be marshalled to recognize and treat the multi-factorial etiologies of cranio-facial and cervial pain, and he was able to help thousands of patients.

Dr. Parker Mahan and His Effect on the Dental Community


Graduates of the fellowship he founded are among the leaders in the pain community.  One of those fellows, Henry Gremillion, followed in Dr. Mahan’s footsteps as the director of the center until its doors were closed.  Today Dr. Gremillion serves as Dean of the LSU School of Dentistry and continues to pass on the skills and knowledge learned in years with Dr. Mahan to pre-doctoral and post-doctoral dentists, physicians, physical therapists and psychologists.

Drs. Mahan and Gremillion also established a program aimed at a wider audience of practicing dentists than those whose vocation was serving the pain patient. It was attended by hundreds of clinicians and dramatically improved the diagnsotic and therapeutic skills they were able to apply in their practices. Most of us who completed the Mini-Residency continued to be primarily involved in restorative dentistry rather than cranio-facial pain, but we saw and treated our patients differently.

With a group of other Mahan Pain Center Fellows, and closely assisted by Dr. Keith Yount, Dr. Gremillion was instrumental in the creation of the Mahan Alumni Association.  Originally founded to bring the fellows and the attendees of the Mini-Residency program together once each year for two days to share knowledge and each other’s company.  Since Dr. Mahan’s passing, it has become an annual tribute to his memory, celebrating his legacy of learning with and from each other – he LOVED to learn new things.

While we discuss some aspects of TMD evaluation for restorative dentists in the Occlusion workshop here at Spear Education, and we have a course that looks specifically at TMD, it’s beyond the scope of our curriculum to delve into the depths of the varied facets of cranio-facial pain.  That’s why I attend the Mahan Alumni Association annual meeting.  For those of you who, like me, have decided that cranio-facial pain is NOT what you want to treat as your primary calling, the chance to network with professionals who are treating these patients every day is a source that I KNOW improves my practice and my teaching.

Differentiation means finding ways to be and act differently. The changes to my evaluation and diagnostic capabilities are noticed by both my patients and my colleagues.  If you want to learn more – contact me at gdewood@speareducation.com.


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