Opioids are narcotic pain relievers that require a prescription from a medical professional. When taken as prescribed for short periods of time under the care of a medical professional, opioids can be a safe and effective pain management tool. Unfortunately, opioid abuse is a growing and dangerous problem in America.
We don't limit our opioid prescribing only because of the addiction epidemic that is growing around us, but also because science has shown us that it is inadequate for managing the cause of dental pain, inflammation.
Anti-inflammatories such as Ibuprofen (non-steroidal anti-inflammatory) and Medrol (a steroid) have been shown to relieve dental pain in a more effective way by actually reducing the inflammation rather than masking it. Still, there does remain a limited place for opioids when managing pain and used responsibly.
ADA Continues to Fight Opioid Epidemic
CHICAGO — Oct. 26 is National Prescription Drug Take Back Day—a day to not only safely dispose of unused prescription medications but also to raise year-round awareness and inspire further action on the opioid public health crisis.
For more than a decade, the American Dental Association (ADA) has advocated to keep opioid pain medications from harming dental patients and their families. Dentists have written nearly half a million fewer opioid prescriptions over a five-year period. In 2018, the ADA was the first—and to this day remains the only—national health professional organization—to agree to mandated limits on opioid prescriptions.
“For years, dentists have been self-regulating their own prescribing habits in order to do what is best for patients,” said ADA President Chad Gehani, D.D.S. "As a profession, we make a promise to our patients that we will be good stewards of their health. We will continue to fight the opioid epidemic by keeping that promise and upholding the all-important doctor-patient relationship.”
The ADA continues to urge its 163,000 dentist members to consider non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) as a first-line therapy for acute pain management. A review of research published in the April 2018 Journal of the American Dental Association indicates NSAIDs, alone or in combination with acetaminophen, is more effective with fewer side effects than opioids for acute pain management.
Among the many ways ADA continues to focus on the opioid epidemic include:
- offering free online webinars and in person continuing education sessions for dental professionals
- urging dentists to register with their state prescription drug monitoring programs
- offering patient-friendly resources to inform the public that over-the-counter pain relievers can often effectively relieve short-term dental pain
The ADA is committed to working with physicians, pharmacies, policymakers and the public to end this tragic and preventable public health crisis that has been devastating our families and communities.
About the American Dental Association
The not-for-profit ADA is the nation's largest dental association, representing 163,000 dentist members. The premier source of oral health information, the ADA has advocated for the public's health and promoted the art and science of dentistry since 1859. The ADA's state-of-the-art research facilities develop and test dental products and materials that have advanced the practice of dentistry and made the patient experience more positive. The ADA Seal of Acceptance long has been a valuable and respected guide to consumer dental care products. The monthly The Journal of the American Dental Association (JADA) is the ADA's flagship publication and the best-read scientific journal in dentistry. For more information about the ADA, visit ADA.org. For more information on oral health, including prevention, care and treatment of dental disease, visit the ADA's consumer website MouthHealthy.org