Touro Implements Strict Prescription Policy to Reduce Opioid Use

Dentistry Today


Touro Dental Health, the 81-chair dental teaching practice at the Touro College of Dental Medicine (TCDM), has implemented a policy that will dictate how controlled substances will be prescribed to reduce addiction. 

Many people, particularly teenagers, are first exposed to narcotics after dental procedures. Touro Dental Health’s policy takes a proactive stance to protect the health of patients while reducing the growing number of substance use disorders, TCDM reports.

Opioids no longer will be used for pain control following procedures at the clinic unless special circumstances such as an allergy exists. If opioids must be prescribed, it only will be done after a strict review of the patient’s history and an informed consent process including one-on-one communication between the patient and dentist focused on the risk.

Even then, opioids only will be issued to cover three days of pain control. A very limited number of faculty will be authorized to prescribe any controlled substances. In all other cases, Touro Dental Health will use non-narcotic pain control methods that have been proven just as effective in dental patients.

“This new policy was specifically designed with patients in mind. Many people start on the road to addiction by using narcotic painkillers prescribed for legitimate reasons,” said Eric Wachs, DMD, course director for ethics and professionalism in dentistry at TCDM. 

“By prescribing fewer opioids, we hope to stop addiction before it starts. This new policy will also benefit our students and equip them with the right knowledge, skills, and approach for ethical patient care,” said Wachs.

“I applaud Touro Dental College for their proactive stance in limiting patient exposure to addictive opioids,” said Senator Pete Harckham, 40th Senate District, chair of the Senate Committee on Alcoholism and Substance Abuse. 

“Overprescription of these drugs has played a role in the current opioid addiction epidemic, and Touro’s new policy is one that every dental office should implement,” said Harckham.

“In county government, we have spent significant time, effort, and resources combatting the rising opioid epidemic, and what the folks on the front lines always say is that far too often, addiction starts with a legal prescription,” said Westchester County Executive George Latimer. 

“I applaud this new approach from Touro, which aims to cut this common source of opioids off from its origin and potentially saving a countless number of lives,” said Latimer. 

In addition to implementing these safeguards to prevent over-prescription of controlled substances, TCDM says it is uniquely poised to combat the opioid epidemic by educating the next generation of medical professionals in the ethical considerations of pain management.

While ethics and professionalism courses typically are taught later in the curriculum, TCDM says that it emphasizes these topics from the very first semester, introducing personal lectures and discussion groups, real case studies, and patient role playing before the students’ clinical experience begins.

“Ethics and professionalism are essential building blocks of a medical education and are as vital as the rest of the knowledge and skills required,” said Wachs.

“When we place a stronger emphasis on these values, doctors spend more time talking to and advising patients. We can move doctors away from writing prescriptions and challenge them to find new solutions to pain management or counseling of the patient,” said Wachs.

TCDM’s prescription policy is now in place, and college leadership says it hopes the school can be a leader for other dental providers in the region who also are dedicated to doing their part to alleviating the nationwide opioid epidemic.

Related Articles

Opioids Versus Over the Counter: Pain Relief in Dental Care

AAOMS Releases Opioid Prescription Guidelines

When Dentists Should Prescribe Opioids—And When They Shouldn’t