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The American Dental Association Commends President Trump for Declaring Opioid Abuse Crisis a Public Health Emergency

October 27, 2017

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WASHINGTON, D.C., October 27, 2017 — The American Dental Association (ADA) joins the chorus of health organizations praising the White House for its official designation of the opioid crisis as a public health emergency. The ADA hopes this action by the president will encourage public health agencies to prioritize their resources to address the problem.

The federal response is already expanding its focus to include short-term acute pain management, more common in dentistry, as well as the more prevalent long-term opioid treatment for chronic pain confronted by the medical profession. The ADA hopes that the president’s declaration will mean even more emphasis on this distinction in the federal government’s opioid prescriber education and outreach efforts. Further, the Association encourages federal officials to coordinate development of education regimens with professional societies.

The ADA has long recognized the severity of opioid misuse and abuse, and has made great strides in educating dentists about how they can help mitigate the crisis.  In 2016, the ADA updated its clinical guidelines for managing dental pain, especially for patients who are at risk for drug overdose and/or addiction. Prior to that, the Association published the ADA Practical Guide to Substance Use Disorders and Safe Prescribing. And since 2012, the ADA has been offering free online continuing education on safe and effective opioid prescribing. 

Earlier this month, the ADA submitted statements urging two congressional committees to elevate acute pain management in the federal response to the opioid crisis and ensure that any prescriber education opportunities are coordinated with professional societies and accredited continuing education providers. 

The Association plans a second “call to action” in January to its 161,000 member dentists, urging them to take several specific actions to prevent opioid abuse by their patients. Dr. Carol Gomez Summerhays, then-ADA president, issued the first membership-wide “call to action” in 2016.

The ADA has long recognized the severity of opioid misuse and abuse, and has made great strides in educating dentists about how they can help mitigate the crisis. 

The ADA encourages dentists to continually refresh their knowledge about how to safely prescribe opioid pain medication, and to know when non-opioid alternatives are appropriate. In addition, the ADA has worked hard to ensure that its members are aware of modern drug-seeking behavior and to help those patients who may be addicted to opioid painkillers. 

Health care professionals have a special role to play in fighting the opioid abuse problem. The ADA will continue its work in this area, including providing its members with continuing education opportunities and information addressing opioid abuse by patients.

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About the ADA

The not-for-profit ADA is the nation's largest dental association, representing 162,000 dentist members. The premier source of oral health information, the ADA has advocated for the public's health and promoted the art and science of dentistry since 1859. The ADA's state-of-the-art research facilities develop and test dental products and materials that have advanced the practice of dentistry and made the patient experience more positive. The ADA Seal of Acceptance long has been a valuable and respected guide to consumer dental care products. The monthly The Journal of the American Dental Association (JADA) is the ADA's flagship publication and the best-read scientific journal in dentistry. For more information about the ADA, visit For more information on oral health, including prevention, care and treatment of dental disease, visit the ADA's consumer website