FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Pitt School of Dental Medicine Commits to Opioid-free Prescribing Guidelines
The University of Pittsburgh School of Dental Medicine is committed to opioid-free prescribing for routine dental procedures and is the first school of dental medicine in the United States to establish opioid-free pain management guidelines for the vast majority of procedures performed in all of its dental clinics.
The opioid crisis is a national epidemic in communities that is ruining lives, families and often leading to death for those who are addicted. Doctors at the University of Pittsburgh School of Dental Medicine are taking a strong stand against routinely prescribing opioid pain relievers following dental procedures, including the surgical extraction of wisdom teeth. Pitt Dental Medicine has developed a set of guidelines that allows providers to make informed prescribing choices to effectively minimize inflammatory pain following surgery based on current evidence showing that alternative, non-opioid medications work as well or better than opioids for most dental procedures. While changes in prescribing habits already have led to decreases in opioid use for dental pain, Pitt Dental Medicine is taking the strongest position yet to eliminate the routine use of opioids for outpatient dental procedures.
Opioid pain relievers such as Vicodin and Percocet have been the accepted treatment for decades. Unused opioids, stored in patients’ medicine cabinets, often are unsecured and available for misuse and abuse leading to possible addiction. The Appalachian corridor, which includes Western Pennsylvania, is a hot zone for opioid addiction. With deaths occurring every day from opioid abuse, and costs of rehabilitation care approaching $90,000 per hospitalization, deliberate strategies to minimize dental pain after treatment and eliminate the need for opioid pain relievers are now available to combat this public health crisis. Pitt Dental Medicine faculty and care providers are leading the way with the adoption of this new protocol by teaching their students and residents the best way to manage pain effectively without the unnecessary risk of opioid dependence.