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Assessing the impact of an opioid prescribing guideline for dentists in Ontario, Canada


Background — The Royal College of Dental Surgeons of Ontario introduced a new dental opioid prescribing guideline in November 2015. The authors examined whether introduction of this guideline was associated with changes in opioid prescribing patterns.

Methods — The authors conducted a population-based, cross-sectional time series study of Ontarians who received opioids prescribed by dentists from July 1, 2012 through September 30, 2017. They examined the impact of the guideline on dental prescribing patterns by calculating the monthly rate of opioid dispensing from dentists per 100,000 population, as well as the population exposure to opioids expressed as milligram morphine equivalents per 100 population.

Results — Ontario dentists issued 1,571,897 opioid prescriptions to 1,157,102 patients over the study period. The guideline was not associated with a change in opioid dispensing rates, but it was associated with a significant reduction in the volume of opioids dispensed (28.1% reduction, from 22.1 to 15.9 milligram morphine equivalents per 100 population from October 2015 through September 2017; P = .01).

Conclusions — Introduction of the prescribing guideline was associated with no change in the rate of opioid prescribing by dentists, but it was associated with a roughly 25% reduction in the volume of opioids prescribed.

Practical Implications — Introduction of the new opioid prescribing guideline for Ontario dentists was associated with a reduction in the overall volume of opioids dispensed.



Guan Q, Campbell T, Martins D, Tadrous M, Juurlink D, Paterson M, Mamadani M, Mock D, Gomes T. J Am Dent Assoc. 2020; 151(1):43-50. Epub 2019 Dec 5.

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