When severe oral pain strikes, opioids are often prescribed for pain relief. But misuse of opioids is a growing problem that poses both economic and public health consequences. Even when prescribed by a health professional, regular opioid use can lead to dependence, and opioid misuse can cause addiction, overdose, and sometimes death.
A new commentary by two NIH Institute directors—Dr. Martha J. Somerman, director of the National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research (NIDCR), and Dr. Nora Volkow, director of the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA)—notes that dentists can play a vital role in helping to address the nation’s opioid crisis. The coauthors outline NIH-funded research and initiatives that aim to inform clinical decision making related to opioid prescribing. They also highlight the importance of partnerships between clinicians and researchers. The commentary was published online July 25, 2018, in the Journal of the American Dental Association.
To learn more about NIH research related to opioid use and dentistry, read the commentary The Role of the Oral Health Community in Addressing the Opioid Overdose Epidemic by NIDCR Director Martha J. Somerman, DDS, PhD, and NIDA Director Nora D. Volkow, MD. To learn more about opioids, go to NIDCR’s Opioids webpage and NIDA’s Opioids webpage.