Dentists Stepping it Up in Their Practices

In the latest issue of the journal “Addiction” an alarming but pleasant article was written on this subject. From the years 2000 to 2011, many researchers from this journal went out and sampled 1,802 dentists all across the country using a survey created by the American Dental Association Survey Center.  The survey was designed to find out exactly what dentists asked their patients, and why.

This was met with warmth, praise, and rounds of validation and compliments to the dental field at large.  Because drug addiction and substance abuse is such a serious issue in the United States today, it was very pleasing for all who were made known of this information that a whole other branch of the medical field was stepping up to the plate and taking it upon themselves to do their part for preventing drug addiction and substance abuse within their local communities.

Statistics from Surveys: What Dentists are Actually Doing to Combat Addiction

Just a few of the findings from the survey mentioned above are listed below:

• It was in fact found that not only did exactly seventy-seven percent of the dentists surveyed make a point to ask their patients about any illicit drug use, but fifty-four percent admitted to seeing it as their responsibility and medical obligation to do so.  They would ask out of health concern for the individual’s teeth, gums, and jaw, but also out of a general concern that comes about from working in a medical field.

• The study also found that dentists over the age of 53 were more likely to come out and ask patients about drug misuse (sixty-two percent of those surveyed) than those under the age of 53 (exactly forty-seven percent).

• Female dentists, (weighing in at forty-seven percent of those surveyed) also felt that drug use screening should be part of their responsibilities and daily questioning of patients cared for more so than the male dentists’ opinion on the matter (fifty-two percent of those surveyed).

• Perhaps it is less surprising than the above information, but those dentists who did make a point to ask their patients about any illicit drug use made it a point to reassure that their patients’ answers were entirely confidential, and that if the patient answered in the affirmative that it was of the utmost importance that the individual not only seek treatment for the drug abuse for the sake of his or her physical health, but also for the sake of the person himself or herself.

Looking to the Future

This move by dentists everywhere has done more than help those patients of the dentists themselves.  This change has enacted a precedent that may resound across the nation in more ways than one.  How long before eye doctors, chiropractors, orthopedic doctors, OBGYNs, and other medical practitioners begin to ask the same questions?  If all members of all fields of medicine and health begin to do their part to stop drug abuse, then the issue may certainly decline quite drastically in the United States.

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