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Ohio Dentists Learn To Dial Back Opioid Prescriptions

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Ohio dentists are convening in Toledo to learn how they can help reduce the number of opioids on the streets.

Dentists from across Ohio will attend a symposium tonight in Toledo on the use of opioid medication in the dental field - another step in fighting the epidemic of opiate abuse and overdoses in the region.

Doctor Matthew Lark has been a dentist for 35 years. He also chairs an opiate awareness task force in Toledo.

Lark says that while most opioids are prescribed to patients after a major surgery, dentists will also recommend them after a routine root canal or a tooth extraction.

The issue, he says, is that for years dentist have over-prescribed painkillers.

"Some dentists had been giving said amounts of these medications to people without really thinking of whether or not excess pills were being left over," Lark says.

And he says those leftover pills are being abused or sold on the street.

"People would receive more medications than they needed so pills would end up in the medicine cabinet or end up going on the streets," Lark says. "Or a teenager might find them."

Lark says dentists at the symposium will learn how to better regulate themselves. They can prescribe fewer opioids or substitute an anti-inflammatory instead - which Lark says work just as well.

Attendees will also learn to identify opiate addicts, and they’ll learn how to administer Nalaxone, which is used to treat narcotic overdoses.