You’ve probably heard about the national opioid crisis. It may even be personally affecting you or a member of your family. Opioids, according to the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA), include both illicit drugs like heroin and fentanyl, and legally prescribed pain relievers like oxycodone. The NIDA estimates that more than 130 people die each day from an overdose on these drugs.
What does the opioid crisis have to do with dental care?
While there’s no doubt that the opioid crisis is a serious issue in our country, it might be less clear why the topic is relevant to dental care. If we look at a few statistics, we’ll see that the dental industry does, in fact, have a role to play in addressing this problem.
According to a recent study, in 2016:
- Dentists wrote more than 11.4 million opioid prescriptions in the United States alone.
- Opioids made up 22.3% of all U.S. dental prescriptions.
The National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research also tells us:
- Dentists are the highest opioid prescriber group for patients between the ages of 10 and 19.
- Dentists prescribe 6.4 – 8.0% of all opioid pain relievers dispensed by retail pharmacies each year.
So, what are we doing about it?
We care about our patients. That’s why we’ve made it an initiative to minimize the number of narcotics we are prescribing. We’re happy to report that between 2016 and 2019:
- The total number of narcotic pills we prescribed dropped by 48%.
- Our doctors wrote 31% fewer narcotic prescriptions.
- The average number of pills per prescription fell from 16 to 12.
We continue to educate our team and encourage our doctors to prescribe alternatives for pain relief. If they do consider an opioid prescription, our doctors will follow CDC guidelines and use the lowest effective dose and quantity.
Who can I contact if I need help?
If you or someone you love is struggling with opioid addiction, there is support available. The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) provides an online directory of treatment programs that might be able to help. They also offer a national 24/7 helpline.
We care about you!
We are committed to doing whatever we can to help end this terrible epidemic. Rest assured that when you receive your dental treatment with us, your health and safety will always come first.