How you can help combat the opioid crisis

If you have a dental emergency or any kind of oral surgery, your dentist may prescribe medicine to help you manage the pain.

But today, misuse of certain types of prescription painkillers known as opioids — including hydrocodone, oxycodone, morphine and codeine — has become a national public health crisis. Taking opioids in a way other than prescribed can lead to addiction, overdose or even death. Each day, more than 130 Americans die from an opioid overdose, according to the National Institute on Drug Abuse.

The dental community — working hand in hand with physicians, law enforcement and educators — is helping combat this problem to prevent opioid misuse.

How to do your part

Ask your dentist about over-the-counter medications such as ibuprofen or acetaminophen as alternatives to opioids.

Confirm the number of days you should take painkillers. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends taking prescription opioids for no more than seven days, and in most cases, no more than three days.

Make sure opioids are never prescribed to your children.

Know that painkillers may be addictive. You can discuss this with your dentist or physician.

Understand what to do with unused or expired pills. Your dentist can provide guidance on how to properly dispose of them.

On topic with Dr. Dill

Share your medical history with your dentist if you have a condition that requires prescription opioids for pain relief. Let your dentist know what other medications you are taking and if your family has a history of addiction. Don’t be afraid to ask questions, and always properly dispose of any leftover pills as soon as possible.

Meet Joseph Dill, DDS, Delta Dental’s Vice President of Dental Science and Network Strategy. With over 30 years of experience in the dental field, including eight in private practice and 16 in dental insurance, Dr. Dill provides expert insights and helpful advice to keep you smiling bright.