Summary: New ADA Opioid Policy

In 2016 over 200 million prescriptions for opioids were dispensed to individuals in the United States. As of March 2 of this year there are more than 2 million cases of opioid addictions across the country. (CNN, 2018)

Opioids are drugs formulated to replicate the pain reducing effects of the opium poppy, a plant which produces a juice with analgesic properties. As more cases of abuse of these controlled substances have been reported it has been said that the U.S. is in the throes of an “opioid epidemic,” which has led to much discussion on how best to curb this dangerous problem.

The American Dental Association (ADA) for their part has issued an updated opioid policy to help guide dental professionals prescribing opioids. The intent is to balance the pain relieving benefits of opioids with the understanding that they shouldn’t always be the first choice when helping patients cope with lingering pain after dental treatment.

The ADA has shared their full updated policy and comments on the opioid situation on the ADA website, but we have summarized the main points here:

  • ADA supports mandatory continued education for dental professionals prescribing opioids
  • ADA supports statutory limits on opioid dosage and duration (no more than seven days) for the treatment of acute pain
  • ADA supports dentists registering with and utilizing Prescription Drug Monitoring Programs (PDMPs) to promote appropriate opioid use

This policy is meant to enforce the seriousness of prescribing opioids in a dental practice and support dental professionals in the smart and safe dispensing of them when they are needed.