New Delta Dental of Minnesota white paper proposes a change in how dentists prescribe opioids
Delta Dental of Minnesota

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October 30th, 2018

New Delta Dental of Minnesota white paper proposes a change in how dentists prescribe opioids

Authors hope to reduce opioid dependency by recommending new mindset for oral health professionals

Dentists are the leading prescribers of opioids for children age 10-19 years old, at a period of life when their brains are at an increased risk for addiction. In fact, upwards of 3.5 million teenagers and young adults are exposed to opioids for the first time after they’ve had their wisdom teeth extracted. In a new white paper, Delta Dental of Minnesota suggests dentists can play their part in curbing the opioid epidemic with a new mindset around managing patient pain.

Titled “Addressing the Opioid Crisis,” the co-authored piece by Eileen Crespo, MD, and Mary Johnson, DDS, of Delta Dental of Minnesota, offers practical suggestions for dentists.

The opioid epidemic is a major health issue in the United States. Each day, an estimated 116 Americans die related to opioid abuse. The key white paper recommendation is a change in prescriber mindset to aim for pain reduction rather than elimination. Other recommendations include avoiding overprescribing practices and educating and encouraging patients on safe medication disposal.

“We are in the midst of a serious national health crisis,” said Mary Johnson, DDS, vice president of Dental Service for Delta Dental of Minnesota. “Our hope is that this white paper serves as a resource to empower oral health professionals to reevaluate their prescribing habits as we work together to reduce opioid dependency and save lives.”

“Delta Dental is committed to playing its part in combating the opioid epidemic gripping our communities,” said Eileen Crespo, MD, vice president of Medical Services for Delta Dental of Minnesota. “We are pleased to contribute to the growing body of research surrounding this crucial effort.”

Below is an excerpt from the white paper, which can be downloaded at the Delta Dental of Minnesota website:

The opioid crisis remains a significant health problem, and while efforts are being made on many fronts, overdose deaths continue to rise. Cooperation from all health care providers is vital to stem the tide of opioid abuse.

We at Delta Dental of Minnesota are committed to supporting our providers and our members. We will continue to facilitate conversations with providers and employers, produce educational resources for our members, and offer evidence-based health information.

Research shows there is evidence that focused changes to prescribing practices by health care professionals can significantly decrease the number of opioid prescriptions, the supply of unused opioid medication, and the opportunity for illicit use. This means changing the way we think about prescribing opioids and the way we communicate to our patients about pain control.

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