Dentists often prescribe hydrocodone or oxycodone combination analgesics for short-term, acute pain management. For example, every year, millions of adolescents receive their first introduction to opioid analgesics following third molar extractions.

Although most opioid prescriptions do not result in abuse or addiction, opioid misuse is on the rise. As prescribers of 12%1 of immediate-release opioids in the U.S., dentists can help combat this national epidemic. Here are some steps you can take:

  • Prescribe the minimum quantity needed to manage pain.
  • Incorporate substance abuse education into your practice.
  • Intervene if a patient exhibits signs or symptoms of drug abuse. Refer the patient to a local program and/or interact with the patient’s physician.

In addition, if you are authorized to prescribe schedule II – IV drugs, you must have registered for access to the prescription monitoring program – CURES 2.0 – by July 1, 2016 or when a DEA Controlled Substance Registration Certificate was issued, whichever occurred later. The registration requirement is based on possession of a DEA certificate and dental license, not on drug dispensing, prescribing or administering activities.

For more information, visit the California prescription drug monitoring program at the California Department of Justice CURES 2.0 website.


1 According to the July 2011 JADA article, “Prevention of prescription opioid abuse.