Excellent communication between pharmacists and other healthcare providers is key to providing the best patient care possible, and dentists are no exception.
While dentists may not be the most common healthcare professionals pharmacists work with, there are a few areas where collaboration is relatively common: allergies and opioids (see Table 1).
Alan Tanabe, PharmD, staff pharmacist in Ann Arbor, MI, feels that dentists and pharmacists can work well together. “Occasionally, I will come across a prescription issued for amoxicillin for a patient with a documented beta-lactam allergy, or a prescription for ibuprofen for a patient who is already taking another NSAID for a different reason, but these issues are usually resolved quickly with a call to the prescribing dentist,” he said. He finds that most problems are quickly resolved as long as the issue is presented respectfully and backed by evidence-based information if needed.
Although it can be difficult to juggle these acute prescriptions with everything else happening in a busy chain, Tanabe says that “we will triage the needs of a patient, especially post-procedure.”
In terms of opioid prescribing by dentists, Tanabe says that he has observed most dentists being very conscientious about keeping the number of opioids limited to what a patient will actually need.
Tanabe believes in the importance of “open communication and team-approach.”
Anne Henriksen, PharmD, pharmacist and owner at Malley’s Compounding Pharmacy in Richland, Washington, agrees that collaboration is key. “The profession of pharmacy always comes down to relationships. Although the scope of dentists may be very focused, treatments and medications that they prescribe can interact with other chronic medications the patient may take. Pharmacists are the medication therapy experts. Ensuring all prescribed medications are safe and appropriate for the patient through many different fields of practice is an essential part of the pharmacist’s responsibility,” she says.
Building relationships is critical: “it is always difficult to truly understand another practitioner’s field of practice. Dentists who frequently use your pharmacy and speak with and have a relationship with a pharmacist will be more likely to be able to communicate appropriate expectations with their patient,” Henriksen says.
Read More: Side Effects of the Shingles Vaccines
Henriksen has noticed a shift in prescribing in recent years. “For opioid-naive patients who are having a simple dental procedure, ibuprofen and other NSAIDs have been shown to provide excellent pain relief,” she says. “With the increased focus on addiction from prescription opioids, dentists are more conservative with prescribing painkillers.”
When an issue arises with an allergy, drug interaction, or any other issue, Henriksen finds that most dentists are open to collaborating with the pharmacist to ensure safe and appropriate therapy.
Jason Lizzack, DMD, of Lizzack Family Dentistry in Fair Lawn, NJ, agrees with the teamwork approach. “I always appreciate when a pharmacist calls on an allergy or drug interaction. Due to the complexity of patients’ medical histories, I strongly hope the pharmacist will call me if there is any conflict with my prescriptions,” he says.
Continue reading on page 2...