Conference to Spotlight Pain Management Without Opioids

Dentistry Today


As the opioid crisis continues nationwide, the American Association of Endodontists (AAE) will address pain control strategies designed to treat patients safely and minimize the risk of abuse at its AAE18 conference, scheduled for April 25-28 at the Colorado Convention Center in Denver.

On Thursday, April 26, a panel of experts will discuss the moral and legal responsibilities of prescribing opioids. They will review indications for prescribing opioids, the benefits of nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs to relieve postsurgical dental pain, and the role of dental professionals in reducing patients’ reliance on prescription drugs.

On Saturday, April 28, Alan S. Law, DDS, PhD, and Donald R. Nixdorf, DDS, MS, will review the findings of a nationwide study of post-treatment pain. Research suggests that up to 19% of patients experience severe pain after initial root canal treatment. 

This session will present findings from a practice-based study that collected demographic, pain, psychosocial, anatomic, disease, and procedure information to uncover the most important factors in predicting severe post-treatment pain. 

Later in the day, Asgeir Sigurdsson, DDS, MS, will present the findings of a multicenter clinical study on pain following endodontic treatment. The study aims to determine if advances in endodontic technology have reduced patients’ postoperative pain rates. 

Also on Saturday, “Pain Perspectives: A Conversation Between Three Generations of Pain Gurus” will explore the mechanisms of dental and other orofacial pain conditions and their control, as well as evolving concepts related to pain transmission, plasticity, diagnosis, and treatment. 

The panel also will examine best practices for minimizing the experience of severe acute pain without the use of opioid analgesics and look at the role of the endodontist in preventing and interrupting the transition to chronic pain.

Saturday also will offer Bruce Peltier, PhD, as he presents “Working Effectively with Patient Anxiety and Pain: Behavioral Methods,” discussing the nature of pain and dental anxiety and helping clinicians understand and manage patient discomfort and stress.

Anthony Feck, DDS, will speak on Saturday as well, focusing on the use of oral conscious sedation to address patient anxiety. Feck notes that few endodontists use this technique in their practice but argues that it is becoming a standard of care that specialists should offer. 

Finally, Thomas A. Montagnese, DDS, MS, also will discuss sedation in the endodontic practice in a Saturday session that will review the guidelines and rules regarding sedation in the dental practice at the national and state levels.

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