New ADA Opioid Policy

Even though dentists account for only about 7% of all U.S. opioid prescriptions, the American Dental Association (ADA) is encouraging dentists to “eliminate opioids from your arsenal if at all possible.” The reasons for this include two things: the frightening opioid epidemic striking the country is one problem. Second, five different scientific studies have shown that a combination of 400 milligrams of ibuprofen and 1000 milligrams of acetaminophen, non-opioid pain killers, is more effective in reducing dental pain that any of the opioid medications that were studied. Therefore, for most patients, dental pain can be well-managed without opiates.

What can you expect for pain management at the Placerville Dental Group?

Our Placerville dentists are no strangers to the opioid epidemic that affects families and individuals in the community. We strive to provide the best quality dental care possible, in line with the following ADA policies:

  • Don’t prescribe opioids unless necessary.
  • Limit opioid dosages.
  • Limit the duration of treatment (no more than 7 days, with an average of 3).

For example, severe toothaches should not be managed with painkillers. A painful tooth requires examination and a treatment plan that addresses the causes of the pain. After oral surgery procedures or extractions, pain should first be managed with over-the-counter medications. Cold packs should be used to reduce swelling and pain, while rest and hydration supports recovery. If you find your pain and swelling does not subside after oral surgery, we want you to come in for a follow-up appointment to rule out infection or other problems, not just request an extension of an opiate prescription.

While no one in the dental field wants patients to be in pain, neither do we want them addicted to painkillers. Disturbing trends indicate that prescriptions to young people are responsible for the greatest increase in opioid treatment. Yet, the young age of these patients creates perhaps the greatest potential for abuse, leading to a lifetime of misery. The Placerville Dental Group wants to work with our community, the ADA and fellow dentists to do our part to reduce, not increase, the presence of opiates in the prescription environment.


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