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ADA meets with HHS to discuss dentistry’s continuing efforts in ending opioid crisis

June 18, 2018

By Jennifer Garvin

ADA meets with HHS

Working together: Dr. Jeffrey Cole, ADA president-elect, right, with U.S. Assistant Secretary of Health Brett Giroir, following the ADA’s June 12 meeting.


Washington — In a June 12 meeting with the Office of the Assistant Secretary for Health, ADA President-Elect Jeffrey Cole discussed ways for the ADA to collaborate with federal agencies on preventing first-time exposure to opioids from the dental chair.

“This was a great opportunity for the ADA to highlight everything dentistry is doing and will continue to do to address the opioid issue,” Dr. Cole said. “The Association looks forward to collaborating with HHS.”

The Office of the Assistant Secretary for Health oversees 12 core public health offices — including the Office of the Surgeon General and the U.S. Public Health Service Commissioned Corps. During the one-hour meeting with U.S. Assistant Secretary of Health Brett Giroir, Dr. Cole and ADA staff shared the following Association initiatives: 

  • Adopting interim policy on opioids that supports prescription limits and mandatory continuing education for dentists. The new policy, officially titled Interim Board Policy on Opioid Prescribing, is believed to be one of the first of its kind from a major health professional organization. For more than 10 years, ADA education efforts on this issue have included free quarterly webinars.
  • Tasking the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention with developing guidelines for treating acute pain. The ADA shared with HHS that to date, the federal response has focused almost exclusively on chronic pain management, which is seen less in dentistry than in medicine. For that reason, the federal response to the opioid crisis has not been particularly helpful to dentists.
  • Asking the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services to prioritize hiring a chief dental officer or dentist clinician in a position of authority to oversee oral health issues in Medicare and Medicaid.