Are dentists doing enough to help stem the tide of fatal opioid overdoses?

Dentists have long been at the forefront of the discussion.

In its summer 2014 issue, Incisal Edge dental lifestyle magazine published “Bitter Pills,” an examination of the burgeoning epidemic of dentists’ over-prescription of opioids such as oxycodone and hydrocodone. In the more than two years since, public awareness of the problem has exploded. In the magazine’s fall 2016 edition, writer Anna Merlan revisits her earlier story and takes stock of the current situation for patients and doctors alike.

The American Society of Addiction Medicine (ASAM) notes that in 2014, for the first time, drug overdoses were the leading cause of accidental death in the United States, with an estimated 47,055 people succumbing to lethal overdoses — more than 125 a day on average.

According to Merlan:

“The dental industry at large takes seriously its role in preventing opioid abuse and dependence, and was doing so even before today’s alarm bells began to sound: In 2011, the American Dental Association began publishing position papers on dentists’ role in reducing harm from opioids and offering free classes on prescribing them. In May 2015, it debuted a new publication, The Practical Guide to Substance Use Disorders and Safe Prescribing.”

Learn about the pledge taken by more than 60 medical schools, and hear from Dr. Stephen Matthews, who sits on the board of the Missouri Dental Well Being Foundation: http://viewer.zmags.com/publication/884087ef#/884087ef/82

Review the CDC  newest clinical practice guide­lines that lay out how best to prescribe opioids for patients 18 and older: cdc.gov/drugoverdose/prescribing/guideline.html 

To read Merlan’s original piece, go to: http://viewer.zmags.com/publication/636592a9#/636592a9/62

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