28 Jan Dentists need to be part of the opioid discussion (01/28/2018 Herald Commentary)
Dentists need proper training, especially on how to advise patients on pain management.
By Eve Rutherford
Barely a day passes without an alarming news report on the devastating effects of opioid abuse. In reading these reports, one thing is painfully clear, without a coordinated approach — which includes the dental community — opioid addiction will continue to rise, ruining lives and tearing families apart.
In October of last year, through executive order Gov. Jay Inslee took an important first step toward a coordinated approach to tackle the opioid issue in our state. His order brought together leading health organizations, law enforcement, tribal governments and other community partners. Perhaps the result of this order with the most impact is how it brought together our state’s medical and dental communities.
The important role dentists play in helping to curb the opioid epidemic cannot be stressed enough. Dentists write approximately a third, 31 percent, of opioid prescriptions for children ages 10 to 19. This time during a child’s life is critical for brain development and establishing coping behaviors. Teenagers who receive opioid prescriptions during this time are 33 percent more likely to misuse or become addicted than those who do not. As a mother and licensed dentist, this data is deeply concerning.