The fact that dentists prescribe opiates post dental surgery or after extracting tooth was the reason behind the coming together of the Massachusetts Dental Society and three dental schools in Massachusetts. Now, they plan to educate students about measures to prevent opioid misuse. As part of the ongoing efforts to provide training to the next generation of dentists about the after effects of prescription misuse, Governor Charlie Baker signed an agreement with the deans of the three dental schools on February 11, 2016 to introduce opioid misuse preventive measures in their core curriculum. Addressing the meeting attended by state health officials and representatives of Massachusetts’ dental schools, Baker said, “These educational standards represent an innovative and forward thinking contribution to the state’s multifaceted strategy to curb the opioid epidemic.”
Educating dental providers
Under the agreement supported by the Massachusetts Dental Society and the Massachusetts Department of Public Health, approximately 1,800 undergraduate and 550 graduate dental students from all the three dental schools at Boston, Tufts and Harvard Universities will be imparted with the necessary guidelines.
In a press release, Baker wrote, “Educating our dental providers on prescribing practices for opioids is a critical step toward preventing drug misuse as we continue to combat this public health crisis.” Stressing on the massive step taken by Massachusetts in combating prescription drug abuse, Dr. David Keith, a Massachusetts General Hospital oral surgeon and a faculty at the Harvard School of Dental Medicine, said, “The fact is that over 80 percent of those prescriptions which are diverted or misused comes from prescriptions written by physicians and dentists.” The statement issued by Keith is important in the light of statistics which reveal that, till date, dentists are the third highest prescribers of short-term opioids.
Dental students at the Boston University’s School of Dental Medicine, Harvard’s School of Dental Medicine and Tufts University School of Dental Medicine will be taught about the necessary information to be collected to evaluate a patient’s pain. The new instructions would enlighten students to judge the risk for prescription abuse using details like demographics, health records and prescription dispensing details.
Students would be made to understand and identify various opioid and non-opioid alternatives available to treat chronic pain. Considering the opioid epidemic which America is currently battling, it becomes necessary for students to understand the signs of prescription abuse before handing out a prescription. Dr. Monica Bharel, Commissioner, Massachusetts Department of Public Health, said, “It’s during these professional school years where lifelong habits of practice are developed.”
Emphasizing on the fact that the training is being provided to curb substance use disorders, Raymond K. Martin, president-elect, Massachusetts Dental Society, said, “Effective pain management is an important part of dentistry. The Massachusetts Dental Society supports efforts to balance proper pain management with patient safety. Therefore, we applaud the Governor in his initiative to develop core competencies to address the opioid crisis.” Twenty-one recommendations have already been put into effect by the Baker administration with 24 more in the queue.
Way to recovery
The plague of opioid misuse is gradually eating away into the America’s resources with the country losing billions of dollars in lost work productivity. The struggle to stay sober is a big task for addicts.
If you or your loved one is addicted to painkillers, it’s time for immediate action. You may call the 24/7 Prescription Drug Abuse Helpline at 866-450-1557 or chat online for certified medical help.