11:59 AM

Oral Health Interventions Targeting Avoidable Emergency Visits May Reduce Opioid Overdose Deaths

New DentaQuest Partnership research shows statistically significant correlation in Maryland

Rates of opioid-related overdose deaths increase over time with the use of the emergency department (ED) for dental conditions, according to new research from the DentaQuest Partnership for Oral Health Advancement. The study, presented as a poster at the National Oral Health Conference on April 15, examines trends between opioid-related mortality and ED visits for dental conditions in Maryland from 2010 to 2016.

The DentaQuest Partnership noted emergency providers have increasingly prescribed opioids for oral health and dental conditions across the last decade. Yet, little research examines the potential relationship between dental-related emergency visits and opioid-related mortality.

Researchers compared trends of opioid-related deaths and dental-related ED use and found a significant and positive relationship, meaning both shared an upward trajectory across all 7 years of data. This finding is consistent with other research that demonstrates links between opioid addiction and overdose resulting from dependence and drug-seeking behavior, according to the study authors.

Additionally, the study notes the rate of opioid-related overdose deaths per 10,000 adults increased significantly from 2010 to 2016. And compared with opioid-related overdose deaths, the rate of fentanyl-related overdose deaths in particular increased significantly in that time.

What’s more, related research found that of all nontraumatic oral health care patients in the ED, roughly half receive an opioid prescription. Authors of this study reached a similar conclusion: "...opioid prescribing in EDs for acute orofacial pain may be contributing to greater availability of opioid drugs, thereby indirectly adding to the serious morbidity and mortality issues associated with prescription opioids."

Given the positive correlation and consistency with other research, interventions that address opioid prescribing practices in the ED and preventable dental-related ED use could significantly reduce the rate of opioid mortality.

DentaQuest has been and will continue studying and piloting ED rerouting programs to help more patients access the most appropriate care in the most appropriate setting for their needs.

For more information on this study, contact partnership.analytics@dentaquest.com.

About DentaQuest

DentaQuest is a purpose-driven oral health care company that is dedicated to advancing oral health for all. We bring a uniquely holistic perspective to our work – as we manage dental and vision benefits for more than 27 million Americans and provide direct care to patients through our network of more than 85 oral health centers in five states.

DentaQuest provides flexible and customized dental solutions for Medicaid and CHIP, Medicare Advantage, small and large businesses and individuals throughout the U.S. Our clients range from state governments to leading health plans.

At DentaQuest, we believe that business performance and social impact go hand-in-hand, and we have provided more than $200 million in funding for research, grants, and programs to advance oral health in communities across the country.

Our mission is bold – our commitment is strong. By advancing oral health for everyone, we will achieve better health for all. Welcome to Preventistry.

To learn more about DentaQuest and Preventistry, visit Preventistry.org, and follow us on social: Twitter @DentaQuest, Facebook www.facebook.com/DentaQuest, Instagram @Inside_DentaQuest, and LinkedIn www.linkedin.com/company/DentaQuest.