Dentist blog from Delta Dental

Tag: opioid epidemic

How you can help fight opioid addiction

As an oral health care provider, you’re an essential member in the fight against the opioid epidemic. Many adolescents who abuse opioids have their first encounter with medically prescribed painkillers (such as those prescribed for wisdom tooth removal), according to the National Institutes of Health. The overall percentage of opioids prescribed by dentists increased by 12.9% from 2010 through 2015, so being aware of how to combat overprescribing is more important than ever.

The American Dental Association’s Policy on Opioid Prescribing supports:

  • making continuing education on prescribing opioids and other controlled substances mandatory
  • implementing statutory limits on opioid dosage and prescription duration
  • improving the quality, integrity and interoperability of state drug monitoring programs

Another important aspect of helping to combat opioid addiction is having open and honest discussions with your patients. The ADA has put together resources to help you educate your patients about the addictive qualities of narcotic painkillers. You can find a comprehensive collection of webinars about opioid prevention for dentists. For example, the ADA offers advice on selecting strategies for pain management that are appropriate for the estimated severity of different procedures.

Studies have also found that a combination of ibuprofen and acetaminophen can be a more effective pain management tool than simply prescribing opioids, as well. As Dr. Daniel Croley, our Vice President of Network Development, says, “We ask that all dentists consider non-addictive pain management as their first choice. When narcotics are needed, only prescribe the lowest dosage and quantity needed to effectively manage your patients’ pain.”

The opioid epidemic may be too big for any one person to solve, but to quote Dr. Croley, “Together, we can stop the overprescription and abuse of opioids.”

Upcoming webinars on Provider Tools and National Recovery Month

It’s back-to-school season. In the spirit of ongoing education, we’re announcing a series of webinars in September that will show you how to make the most of Provider Tools. The webinars will also show you how you can talk to your patients about returning to your practice safely and how you can help fight the opioid epidemic that continues to afflict the United States.

Attend a Provider Tools and National Recovery Month webinar to learn:

  • How to use Provider Tools to manage your patients
  • How to talk to your patients about teledentistry and safe in-office visits
  • How to help your patients manage pain without narcotics
  • How you can do your part to fight the opioid epidemic
  • And more!

Don’t miss out — register today!

September 9, 11 am PT / 2 pm ET

September 15, 10 am PT / 1 pm ET

September 24, 11 am PT / 2 pm ET

September 29, 9 am PT / noon ET

You can help minimize drug abuse

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.

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