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Dentist group uses teeth to stem opioid painkillers



CHICAGO (AP) – The American Dental Association wants dentists to drastically reduce prescription opioid painkillers

The association announced a new policy on Monday that essentially eliminates "opioids as much as possible from their arsenal", said Dr Joseph Crowley, the president of the group. The Chicago-based group represents some 161,000 dentists.

The group also urges the restriction of opioid prescriptions to not more than a week and mandatory training for dentists that encourages the use of other painkillers.

Dentists write less than 7 percent of US opioid prescriptions, but new research shows that practice has increased in recent years, despite the evidence that ibuprofen and acetaminophen are just as good at treating most toothaches and are less risky to those addicted can make.

In Many Dental Cases with Opioids Dentists prescribe Vicodin or Percocet for short-term pain through procedures such as removing wisdom teeth and other tooth extractions, root canal or dental implants

But non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs including ibuprofen (sold as Motrin and Advil) are equally effective for these conditions; and ibuprofen plus acetaminophen (Tylenol) may provide better pain relief in some cases, according to an analysis of five studies published in the Journal of the American Dental Association

Dentists are the leading prescribers of opioids for US teenagers and the biggest increase in The dental prescriptions from 201

0 to 2015 occurred in 11- to 18-year-olds, according to a study published in the same journal. This rate rose from nearly 100 to 165 per 1,000 patients. Among all age groups, the rate rose from 131 to 147 per 1,000.

The association said in a 2016 policy that dentists should consider these non-opioids as a primary treatment for pain.

"The fact that we are still prescribing opioids when we have shown that non-steroidals are so effective most of the time is a little bit disturbing," Dr. Paul Moore, co-author of the analysis and professor at the Dentistry School of the University of Pittsburgh.

In its new policy, the association supports continuing education events focusing on limiting the use of opioids a prerequisite for the approval of dentists. Many states have accepted these mandates. Moore noted that Pennsylvania recently passed a law requiring dentists to obtain written consent from parents before prescribing opioids to patients under the age of 18.

For many young patients, "This will be their first experience with opioids," Moore said. "Maybe it's our opportunity to stop patients and advise them on the dangers."

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Follow AP Medical Writer Lindsey Tanner on Twitter @LindseyTanner. Your work can be found here.

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