Pa. releases opioid guidelines for dentists

Pennsylvania's Department of Drug and Alcohol Programs (DDAP) and Department of Health have released guidelines for prescribing opioids for acute or chronic head and orofacial pain.

The guidelines, "Pennsylvania Guidelines on the Use of Opioids in Dental Practice," are intended to improve patient outcomes and avoid potential adverse outcomes associated with the use of opioids to treat pain, according to the departments.

"In the past 15 years, Pennsylvania and the rest of the nation has seen a dramatic increase of prescribing opioids, and we believe this has led to the heroin and opioid crisis we are facing today," stated DDAP Secretary Gary Tennis in a press release. "This new set of guidelines will strengthen our efforts to significantly reduce the need for opioid prescription medications and open the door to alternative pain management for our citizens."

The guidelines have been endorsed by the Pennsylvania Medical Society and the Pennsylvania Dental Association (PDA).

"[The] Pennsylvania Dental Association understands that the issue of prescription drug abuse is a grave and growing concern among law enforcement, policymakers, and the healthcare community and that initiatives must be undertaken to reduce the number of Pennsylvanians, especially our youth, who suffer from dependency of prescription drugs," stated Wade Newman, DDS, president of the PDA, in the release. "The dental profession is a committed stakeholder in educating the provider community and patients about the inherent dangers and risks associated with prescription drug abuse."

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