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Course to Explore the Opioid Epidemic and Dentistry

Opioid abuse continues to spread, with more than 15,000 deaths from overdoses of prescription opioids in 2015, reports the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Dentists have a role to play in stemming the tide, accounting for approximately 11% of prescription opioids annually in the United States. The California Dental Association (CDA) will offer guidance during “Clinical and Legal Considerations for Prescribing Controlled Substances” on Friday, May 5 from noon to 2:30 pm at CDA Presents in Anaheim.   

The course is designed to help dental professionals understand prescription drug abuse and their role in drug diversion programs, including the use of California’s Controlled Substance Utilization Review and Evaluation System. Prescribing dentists also will learn how to develop a safe and effective regimen for acute pain control for their patients, including opioid alternatives. Plus, dentists will learn how to recognize “red flag” indicators for prescriptions that have been issued for reasons other than legitimate medical purposes.

“It is every prescriber’s responsibility to prescribe opioids in a safe and responsible way. Prescription opioid abuse is a national epidemic and a major problem for the healthcare system as well as law enforcement. Dentists need to be aware of how they can help to get this problem under control,” said Michael Bundy, PharmD, DMD, MD, who is leading the lecture along with Tony J. Park, PharmD, JD.  

“Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, or NSAIDs, such as ibuprofen, should be first-line therapy for acute pain control in dentistry,” said Bundy, noting that several studies have shown the usefulness of NSAIDs alone or in combination with other non-opioid medications in controlling pain. “The effectiveness of NSAIDs is often underestimated.”

The course will be available for 2.5 continuing education units. It also will be audio-recorded and made available for purchase after the convention for those who are unable to attend.

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