Preventing Opioid Abuse from the Dental Chair

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Dentistry is at a crossroads when it comes to prescribing opioids for dental pain. That’s why the American Dental Association (ADA) recently published an article by Dr. Joseph Crowley, ADA president, titled “Preventing Opioid Abuse from the Dental Chair,” along with ways for dentists to implement practices to help ensure safe and effective prescribing of pain medications.

More than 42,000 opioid-related deaths occurred in the U.S. in 2016 — more than any year on record. This doesn’t count the nearly 2 million Americans who reported abusing or being dependent upon prescription pain relievers or the unknown number whose addiction to heroin and other illicit drugs started with a prescription pain reliever.

ADA Takes Action

The ADA Council on Government Affairs met recently to discuss the prevailing view that health professionals have not offered genuine solutions to reduce opioid prescribing. The ADA was also present at the White House Summit on Opioids and hosted a meeting between the American Medical Association, American Pharmacists Association, and Chicago-area government officials to discuss the issue. The ADA has plans to meet with leaders at the U.S. Food and Drug Administration and the National Institute on Drug Abuse. All of these meetings will inform the ADA’s response going forward, which will likely include increased education on the proven efficacy of non-opioids for the management of acute pain and dentistry’s recognition of the evidence that only minimal doses of opioids are needed in cases where their prescription is called for.

Two Ways Dentists Can Take Action