In the roughly two hours it will take to complete this course, approximately ten Americans will die of an opioid overdose.10 The annual cost associated with the opioid epidemic to the American economy, including healthcare costs, lost productivity, criminal justice expenses, and treatment costs, is estimated to be $78.5 Billion.11 Dentists represent approximately 12% of the opioid prescriptions written5,6 and approximately one-third of all prescriptions written by dentists are for opioid pain medications.12 Furthermore, in the particularly vulnerable adolescent population, approximately half of all opioid prescriptions are written by dentists, including oral surgeons, accounting for the 31% of adolescents’ first exposure to opioid medications.13,14 Dentists also report low frequency of prescription drug monitoring program queries, risk screening, and patient education for risk mitigation when prescribing opioid analgesic medication.15 Given the role dentists play in the prescription of opioid medications, it is critical that dental healthcare professionals understand the critical role that they can play in mitigating the risks associated with opioid medications.
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