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Research examines dentists' role in painkiller abuse
Date:7/1/2011

g of dentists and fellow addiction experts and pharmacists at the Tufts Health Care Institute Program on Opioid Risk Management, where he serves as a scientific adviser. The group produced this month's cover article for JADA, which offered several recommendations for dentists, including:

  • Discuss with patients whether they need an opioid for their pain and how likely they are to use what you prescribe.
  • Consider writing small quantities and limit refills.
  • Do not prescribe drugs to patients you do not know; be suspicious of those who claim their drugs were lost or stolen.
  • Use prescription monitoring programs (i.e., state databases), if available, to verify drug-use history.
  • Advise patients either to destroy or lockup any excess medication.
  • Keep prescription pads locked up.

In the article, the nine authors also call for more research to make the most effective use of opioid and non-opioid painkillers, for instance to determine how much painkiller and which kind patients really need. Without enough evidence to guide them, dentists have often felt obliged to prescribe opioids too often and in too great a quantity, Kenna said.

"Some new data show that ibuprofen as an anti-inflammatory does as well as many painkillers to kill pain for many dental procedures," Kenna said.

One in two dentists surveyed

Despite the large role dentists have as painkiller prescribers, there has been very little research on dentists' prescribing practices and experiences, particularly in the context of opioid addiction. To inform their discussion, the group commissioned a survey in 2010, led by Michael O'Neil, a pharmacy professor at the University of Charleston in West Virginia. In all, 52 percent of the state's dentists responded.

The survey revealed that nine in 10 of the dentists surveyed prescribed opioids in the prior year. Two-thirds prescribed between 10 and 20 doses of th
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Contact: David Orenstein
david_orenstein@brown.edu
401-863-1862
Brown University
Source:Eurekalert

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