On topic with Dr. Dill: combating the opioid crisis

If you have a dental emergency or any kind of oral surgery, your dentist may prescribe medicine to help manage pain.

But today, misuse of certain types of prescription painkillers known as opioids — including hydrocodone, oxycodone, morphine and codeine — is a national public health crisis. Taking opioids in a way other than prescribed can lead to addiction, overdose or even death. Each day, more than 130 Americans die from an opioid overdose.1

The dental community — working hand in hand with medical, law enforcement and education communities — is helping combat this problem to prevent opioid misuse.

How to do your part

Ask your dentist about over-the-counter medications such as ibuprofen or acetaminophen to see if they could be just as effective for managing your pain.

Confirm the number of days you should take the painkillers. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends taking prescription opioids for no more than seven days, and in most cases, no more than three days.

Make sure opioids are never prescribed to your small children.

Know that painkillers may be addictive and talk through this with your dentist.

Be aware of what to do with unused or expired pills. Your dentist can provide guidance on how to properly dispose of them.

Share your medical history with your dentist if you have a situation that requires prescription opioids for pain relief. Let your dentist know what other medications you are taking and if your family has a history of addiction. Ask questions. And properly dispose of any leftover pills as soon as possible.

1National Institute on Drug Abuse

Meet Delta Dental’s Vice President of Dental Science and Network Strategy, Joseph Dill, DDS. With more than 30 years of experience in the dental field, including eight in private practice and 16 in dental insurance, Dr. Dill provides expert insights and helpful advice to keep you smiling bright.