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Opioid epidemic: Focus turns to how dentists are treating pain

In recent years, officials at the federal level have made a point of including dentists in their work to stem the flow of opioids. A leader in the effort, Vivek Murthy, M.D., who served as U.S. surgeon general under President Barack Obama, urged health care professionals – including dentists – to consider alternatives to opioids when helping patients to manage pain.

As the authors of a 2016 research letter published in the Journal of the American Medical Association concluded, dentists had regularly prescribed opioids to treat post-extraction pain “despite evidence that a combination of nonsteroidal medications and acetaminophen may provide more effective analgesia for post-extraction pain.”

Mary Otto runs down the latest research, alternatives to using opioids for dental pain and offers an example of how to cover the story.

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