We are an Opioid Conscientious Practice!
The opioid crisis in Canada is a serious health-related issue that we are facing. Many have been devastated by opioid addiction and opioid overdose deaths. Canada has the second highest use of prescription opioids across developed countries. In 2016 almost 3000 people died from opioid related overdoses in Canada alone. Each year, more people die from opioid abuse than motor vehicle accidents. Our Federal health minister Dr. Jane Philpott has called the opioid crisis in Canada a “national public health crisis.”
Dr. Aidelbaum and Dr. Chen would like to help fight this crisis. We have a role to play in reducing the number of opioid prescriptions. Studies have shown 75% of opioid abusers started by taking a prescription. Every day we are confronted with patients who have some level of pain due to our surgical practice. As oral surgeons, we provide acute pain treatment as part of our routine surgical procedures and the management of dental emergencies. While sometimes necessary to manage pain, we want to be cautious and mindful of the risks and benefits of opioids that are commonly prescribed in dental and surgical practices.
Each case is different, whether it’s the type of surgery or the patient themselves. For most dental pains, the nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) –that’s Advil, ibuprofen, Motrin, Naproxen, Aleve –those agents are just as effective as opioids. Many studies have shown NSAIDs to be even more effective than opioids due to their anti-inflammatory effects. Dr. Aidelbaum and Dr. Chen will recommend your first-line pain treatment to involve NSAIDs combined with acetaminophen (Tylenol), unless otherwise indicated. NSAIDs work synergistically with acetaminophen and are well documented to be very effective for your dental pain.
Of course, if these medicines don’t control your pain or your procedure or medical history warrants stronger analgesics, Dr. Aidelbaum and Dr. Chen will evaluate you for opioid prescriptions if necessary. They will review with you in depth regarding your narcotic prescriptions including its purpose to manage your pain, instructions for use, its risks and side effects. Improper use of opioids can be life-threatening.
Dr. Aidelbaum and Dr. Chen also give special long-acting local anesthetics and regional nerve blocks whenever possible to assist in your pain management. This will reduce the requirement for opioid analgesia. The long-acting anesthetics will also give you plenty of time to get comfortable at home and to take your prescribed pain medications before the freezing wears off and before the discomfort starts. This will help you stay on top of your pain control.
You can also help us and fight the opioid crisis by understanding the current opioid epidemic. Please make sure all prescription medications are properly stored, especially the opioids. Make sure they are kept in a secure place and out of reach of visitors, children, friends and family.
We offer a “take-back” program here at our office for you to dispose of your unused opioids. Proper disposal of any expired and unused opioids is very important because it can end up in the wrong hands. Unused opioid medications are often diverted or stolen. Many pharmacies also offer their own take-back programs. Please follow any specific disposal instructions on the label if you are disposing of it yourself.
Dr. Aidelbaum and Dr. Chen are committed to keeping you safe and comfortable during both your surgery and your recovery. Options to minimize or eliminate the need for narcotics postoperatively will be discussed during your consultation. Please feel free to talk to us opening about this topic at your next appointment.