Drug Addiction in Dentistry

Dentists deal with patients in pain every working day. It is our goal to alleviate as much suffering as possible. As part of the process, many times a pain reliever must be prescribed. Although there are some extremely effective anti-inflammatories available for mild to moderate pain, many times, a narcotic pain reliever may be the only type strong enough to relieve the dental pain. Unfortunately, overuse of narcotic pain relievers can lead to addiction. In addition to the pain relieving aspects of narcotics, they also produce euphoria. This can lead to a learned reward experience and can cause a craving to relive the same feeling even after the need for pain control is gone. As more doses are taken, a tolerance is progressively built up, meaning that higher doses are required to achieve the same effect. Dentists need to be aware of patients who experience “pain” with visible source and require heavy doses of narcotics to relieve that “pain”. With the advent of computer networks, dentists now have the ability to check online to see if a particular patient is a “drug seeker”. This allows a dentist to have the piece of mind in prescribing narcotics to provide his patients with proper and adequate pain control.