Dental Association Takes Tougher Stance on Opioids

The American Dental Association will implement limits for how long patients can receive opioids from dentists, while pushing dentists to receive education on the risks of opioids. The group suggests it may be the first policy of its kind in the medical world.

With the opioid crisis front of mind for the medical world at large, the American Dental Association is shifting strategies in an effort to better tackle the issue.

ADA announced on Monday that it would implement a seven-day time limit on how long opioids could be used, along with education requirements for those who prescribe medication to patients and the suggested use of Prescription Drug Monitoring Programs (PDMPs). The association says that its goal is to help encourage a responsible approach that others throughout the medical world can follow.

“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,” ADA President Joseph P. Crowley said in a news release. “This new policy demonstrates ADA’s firm commitment to help fight the country’s opioid epidemic while continuing to help patients manage dental pain.”

The association tied its new stance with new research published in the April issue of  The Journal of the American Dental Association, including a cover story [PDF] that analyzed opioid prescribing practices among dentists. The cover story made the case that opioid prescriptions from dentists were increasing, especially among teenagers and young adults, but at a rate lower than the medical world as a whole.

“Although dentistry is accounting for less of the total volume of opioid prescriptions in the United States, results of our analysis suggest important areas of focus for further managing opioid prescribing among dentists,” the report stated.

In comments to the Associated Press, study coauthor Paul Moore emphasized that other non-opioid options (such as ibuprofen) should be offered first, and that many young people were being exposed to opioids for the first time through dentistry.

“This is going to be their first experience with opioids,” Moore told the wire service. “Maybe it is our opportunity to stop and counsel patients about the dangers.”

(Charles Wollertz/iStock/Getty Images Plus)

Ernie Smith

By Ernie Smith

Ernie Smith is a former senior editor for Associations Now. MORE

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