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  1. Freund, Colleen R. BSDH, RDH
  2. VanDuine, Stefanie M. MSDH, RDH
  3. Cullen, Jennifer L. MPH, BSDH, RDH


Objectives: Opioid misuse and abuse continues to be a grave public health concern in the United States. The aim of this study was to use electronic health records (EHRs) from a US dental school clinic to retrospectively analyze trends in opioid prescription frequencies.


Design: A database review was conducted using EHR data from 20 patient care clinics in a dental school over a 5-year period during which local, state, and national policies and guidelines to mitigate harm from opioid misuse were introduced.


Setting: University of Michigan School of Dentistry, state of Michigan.


Outcome Measure: Descriptive statistics using measures of frequency and distribution of opioid prescriptions written were compared over a 5-year period by dental school clinic specialty, CDT (Code on Dental Procedures and Nomenclature) procedure, drug type, and patient age/gender.


Results: From 2014 to 2018, a total of 12 401 opioid-based prescriptions were written by dental providers in the school's patient care clinics. An ARIMA (autoregressive integrated moving average) model time trend analysis demonstrated a significant decrease in the number of prescribed opioids after 2016.


Conclusions: While causal relationships cannot be drawn between drug abuse and prescription trends alone, this exploratory study provided a better understanding of prescription frequency patterns that can help monitor distribution of opioids and identify areas where future public health interventions may be needed. Dental education institutions have an obligation to ensure a competent health care workforce as well as unique opportunities to support regional and national public health strategies aimed at reducing misuse of opioids.