Over 20.2 million adults struggle with a substance use disorder. Whether it’s a battle with addiction to illicit substances or inappropriate usage of prescription medication, it’s a problem that almost certainly affects you or someone you know.
Recovery from substance use disorder isn’t a linear path — some people enter recovery and stay sober their entire lives. Others experience many setbacks along the way. When it comes to managing pain, those grappling with addiction and substance use disorder often struggle. Fortunately, health care professionals like dentists are seeking new and innovative ways to help prevent and manage pain.
What Is Pain-Free Dentistry?
Pain-free dentistry is the philosophy that no aspect of a visit to your dentist’s office should be painful. This includes techniques to help mitigate and manage the anxiety that you might experience when you have a dental appointment. Relaxing music, a calming atmosphere and well-trained staff who are free of judgment all play a role in the practice of pain-free dentistry.
Pain-free dentistry often means preventing pain before it happens. In certain cases, your dentist may prescribe narcotic pain medications to help mitigate pain. Your dentist has undergone training and is up to date on the latest standards and practices on when prescribing heavy-duty painkillers is considered appropriate — but what’s generally appropriate may not be ideal for someone at risk of, working through or in recovery from substance use disorder. You have a responsibility to disclose this to your dentist and a right to be free from judgment — and receive comparable, effective pain management that won’t compromise your sobriety.
Your Dentist Is an Ally
The goal of your dentist is to prevent and treat pain — and that extends to the pain caused by addiction. Dentists do their best to avoid creating addicts. For example, in many cases involving substance use disorder, a person’s first experience with opioid painkillers prior to addiction may be a prescription written by their dentist after the extraction of their wisdom teeth (third molars). In light of research relating to addiction, your dentist may offer a nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory instead of a narcotic painkiller to help manage pain.
Your dentist can also help counsel you in nonpharmaceutical pain relief techniques, such as relaxation, behavior modification and deep breathing. Your dentist may also utilize other pain relief tactics, such as numbing agents, short-acting sedatives and topical solutions. If you and your dentist decide that the benefits of an opiate outweigh the risks of addiction, you may be counseled on proper use, storage and disposal as well as how to recognize the signs of addiction and what to do if you start descending into disordered use.
Building a Strong Relationship
Your relationship with your dentist is important in preventing and managing substance use disorders. Finding a trustworthy dentist is the first step in the process — it’s not unheard of for unscrupulous individuals to use their medical license to write prescriptions for narcotics in an attempt to make a quick buck at your expense.
Double check your dentist’s standing with your state’s licensing board prior to your appointment. It also doesn’t hurt to visit their website to see where they graduated from and what other patients are saying.
Once you’ve made your appointment, it helps to build your relationship by disclosing any issues of concern, such as a family history of addiction, previous treatment for substance use disorder or factors that may make pain management more complicated for you prior to or after receiving treatment. Be open, candid and honest with your dentist and their staff to form a working, trustworthy and lasting relationship.
How We Can Help
The office of Drs. Krieger and Hur is a trusted name in dentistry. Dr. Krieger graduated from The University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey, a state-run institution with a legacy dating back to the 1950s that has since been absorbed into Rutgers University. Dr. Hur graduated from the University of Connecticut School of Dentistry.
Our practice comes highly rated by patients on Google, Yelp and other review platforms. All staff members complete regular continuing education hours and are trained in pain-free dentistry techniques. Our office is not a “fly by night” organization, and we strive to be the best in family dentistry in Franklin Lakes.
We make an effort to go above and beyond to provide a friendly, caring practice that honors your commitment to your health — not just your oral health but your overall health as a person. As such, we’re more than happy to take on patients who are committed to maintaining their sobriety and staying in recovery.
To book your appointment, please give us a call at (201) 560-0606 or click here to secure your spot via email. Whether you’re newly recovered or sober for years, we’re honored that you chose us to help play a part in maintaining your health, and we’re proud of you for making wise decisions and choices.