The opioid epidemic in the U.S. is not new, but it is definitely getting some much needed attention. You or someone you know has probably been touched by this crisis. I am proud to say the American Dental Association (ADA) has taken impressive steps to reduce the dental profession’s role and protect our patients.
The majority of opioids prescribed to patients in the U.S. come from physicians for the management of long-term pain. Dentists also prescribe opioids, most often for management of short-term pain. In 1998, dentists were the top specialty prescribers of opioid pain relievers, accounting for 15.5 percent of all opioid prescriptions in the U.S. By 2012, this number had fallen to 6.4 percent.
On March 26, 2018, the ADA announced a new policy on opioids including prescription limits and continuing education, the first of its kind among major health care professional organizations.
The policy states:
- The ADA supports mandatory continuing education in prescribing opioids and other controlled substances.
- The ADA supports statutory limits on opioid dosage and duration of no more than seven days for the treatment of acute pain, consistent with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention evidence-based guidelines.
- The ADA supports dentists registering with and utilizing Prescription Drug Monitoring Programs (PDMPs) to promote the appropriate use of opioids and deter misuse and abuse.
ADA President Joseph P. Crowley, D.D.S. had this to say, “As president of the ADA, I call upon dentists everywhere to double down on their efforts to prevent opioids from harming our patients and their families. This new policy demonstrates ADA’s firm commitment to help fight the country’s opioid epidemic while continuing to help patients manage dental pain.”
We are all in this fight together, and I am proud to say that dentistry is leading the way.