The American Dental Association (ADA) has announced new guidelines which recommend that dentists avoid prescribing opioid medications when possible, and urges limiting those prescriptions which are necessary to no more than seven days.
On Monday, March 26, the ADA announced a new policy which urges dentists to essentially eradicate opioids from their prescription regimens when possible.
In addition to urging dentists to outright avoid the prescription of opioid painkillers, the ADA also recommended that dentists limit prescriptions to a duration of seven days when possible. Furthermore, the organization announced support for ongoing mandatory education to keep dentists informed about alternatives to opioid painkillers.
The ADA, which is based in Chicago, Illinois, represents about 161,000 dentists across the United States. Although dentists are responsible for less than 7% of the total opioid prescriptions in the country, they are responsible for the most prescriptions for teenage Americans.
Furthermore, according to a study published Monday in the Journal of the American Dental Association (JADA), the largest increase in the number of opioid prescriptions for dental reasons occurred in the 11- to 18-year-old population. In that population, the rate of prescription increased from 100 to 165 prescriptions per every 1,000 patients. Among all populations, the rate of opioid prescription increased from 131 to 147 per every 1,000 dental patients.
Another study published in the April 2018 JADA suggests that acetaminophen (also known by its brand name, Tylenol) combined with ibuprofen (commonly sold as Advil and Motrin) may be more effective in providing pain relief than opioids. Since 2016, the ADA has recommended that dentists attempt to use non-opioid painkillers in order to treat dental pain.
According to the most recent data from the United States Centers for Disease Control, in 2016, over 42,000 people in the country died as a result of opioid overdose.