However, the opioid epidemic is forcing dentists to review training procedures and update their emergency kits to address the possibility of patient overdose. In a recent webinar available from the ADA Center for Professional Success, Dr. Donald Cohen, DMD, noted that dentists may not be to blame for the crisis, but they are affected nonetheless.
“I can’t overstate the opioid crisis,” said Dr. Cohen. “I’ve seen wild numbers for 2017 … running from 50,000 to 70,000 deaths. They’re out there; they occur. There are numerous references … to things like this occurring in dental offices.”
Dr. Cohen explained that naloxone is a safe enough medication that it can be recommended any time an opioid overdose is suspected. He noted that using naloxone on a patient experiencing a stroke or cardiac event is still a safer protocol than waiting, because the sooner the naloxone is administered, the sooner the patient is likely to return to normal breathing.
“When those patients come around, they can be very anxious,” he said. “They can be very reactive, because it’s like an instant detox. On the other hand, you can save a life.”