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ADA adopts multitiered policy on opioids

January 05, 2017 Denver — In October, the ADA House of Delegates passed Resolution 64H-2016, an ADA Statement on the Use of Opioids in the Treatment of Dental Pain, which includes recommendations for dentists.

The resolution encourages dentists who are considering prescribing opioids to talk to their patients about their responsibilities for preventing the “misuse, abuse, storage and disposal of prescription opioids.” It also urges dentists to register with and utilize prescription drug monitoring programs.

The ADA statement stresses that “dentists who are practicing in good faith and who use professional judgment regarding the prescription of opioids for the treatment of pain should not be held responsible for the willful and deceptive behavior of patients who successfully obtain opioids for non-dental purposes.”

The statement also encourages dentists to:

  • Conduct a medical and dental history to determine current medications, potential drug interactions and history of substance abuse.
  • Follow and continually review Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and state licensing board recommendations for safe opioid prescribing.
  • Look at treatment options that utilize best practices to prevent exacerbation of or relapse of opioid misuse.
  • Consider nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory analgesics as the first-line therapy for acute pain management.
  • Recognize multimodal pain strategies for management for acute postoperative pain as a means for sparing the need for opioid analgesics.
  • Consider coordination with other treating doctors, including pain specialists, when prescribing opioids for management of chronic orofacial pain.
  • Consider seeking continuing education in addictive disease and pain management as related to opioid prescribing.
For more information on all of the ADA activities on opioids, visit