Kids dentistry’s new ‘tough love’ strategy to treat the opioid epidemic
The pediatric dentists and other pediatric dentist specialists at Lincoln Family Dentistry in Salisbury, North Carolina, are taking a new approach to addressing the rising tide of opioid abuse in their patients.
They are offering their patients the chance to quit the addictive drugs before they become addicted, instead of giving them prescription drugs that can lead to addiction.
The new approach is a change in emphasis that could reduce opioid use and save lives, Dr. Jennifer Fennell, the center’s director, said in a news release.
“In addition to the increased demand for opioid pain medications, our pediatric dentures are now being asked to be the first line of defense in helping patients transition from addiction,” Fennells said.
“This approach allows us to provide the best care for our patients while also taking responsibility for ensuring the highest quality care and supporting patients to learn the skills they need to be able to effectively work with their care provider.”
This isn’t the first time Lincoln Family has taken a step to help its patients transition to a healthier lifestyle.
Last year, the Lincoln Family was recognized by the National Institute of Mental Health for its efforts to help people with addiction.
In 2017, the dentists also received a grant from the National Institutes of Health for the creation of a collaborative fellowship program to support the work of dentists in the region and beyond.
This is Lincoln’s third grant from NIH to support its work with addiction treatment.
Last year, Lincoln also won a National Center for Community Mental Health Excellence Award for its work to help reduce mental health disparities.
Fennell said the program is being used as a model to increase efforts at Lincoln and other dentists.
She said the fellowship will provide about 1,000 children with behavioral and developmental supports, which will help them navigate life transitions.
Dr. Matthew G. Sull, the medical director of Lincoln Family, said he is excited to see that more and more dentists are working to offer the option to quit opioids and to help patients transition out of drug use.
Sull said that the dentistry is the first dentistry in the United States to offer such a treatment option.
He said Lincoln is currently in discussions with other dental centers around the country to make the program available in the future.
Sull added that he is hopeful that the program will provide dental and addiction treatment to children from ages 6 months to 12 years old, and that this will lead to more people joining the profession.
Lincoln Family also is working with other dentistry providers in the area to improve dental and dental care, he said.