Dentist stresses prescriber education, shares personal story during Senate opioids hearing
by Jennifer Garvin
As an oral surgeon and dental educator at the Virginia Commonwealth University School of Dentistry, Dr. A. Omar Abubaker was familiar with prescribing opioids to help patients manage their dental pain.
When his son, Adam, was given a prescription for 90 hydrocodone tablets following a shoulder injury, he didn’t question the instructions for him to take a pill every “four to six hours” for pain. Four years later, Adam died from a mixture of heroin and benzodiazepines. He was 21.
In 2016, the ADA updated its policy for managing dental pain, especially for patients who are at risk for drug overdose and/or addiction and encouraging dentists to consider using non-narcotic medications as a first-line pain therapy.
The ADA also has offered free online continuing education on safe and effective opioid prescribing since 2012. The Association also developed “The ADA Practical Guide to Substance Use Disorders and Safe Prescribing.” The clinical reference manual includes techniques dentists can use to manage pain for patients who may be at risk for substance dependence.
“Dentists have been fighting the opioid abuse epidemic on all fronts,” Dr. Crowley wrote. “We have developed new clinical guidelines, raised professional awareness, offered free continuing education, supported research into non-narcotic pain therapies, and more. We also know that there’s more to do.”
Follow all of the ADA’s advocacy efforts on opioids at ADA.org/opioids.