Dentists Drill Patients for Drug Abuse Information

A new survey has found that more than three out of every four U.S. dentists ask their patients about illegal drug use.

The poll also found that more than half of dentists believe they should conduct drug screening of new patients.

More than 1,200 dentists nationwide responded to the survey. The researchers found that dentists who believed it was their role to conduct such screenings were much more likely to do so than dentists who didn’t think it was their responsibility.

Why should dentists conduct these screenings?

One reason is that illegal drug use can cause significant dental problems, such as tooth decay, accelerated tooth wear, gum disease and tooth loss, the researchers noted. Another reason is that dentists are the second-largest group of prescribers of powerful narcotic pain medicines called opioids, such as hydrocodone (Vicodin) and oxycodone (OxyContin, Percocet).

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