Being uncomfortable is just that uncomfortable, whether it is being in a room full of strangers, speaking in front of a large audience, or addressing the aspects of our patients’ lives that are impacting their oral, mental, and systemic well-being. Being uncomfortable is just that uncomfortable.
Many of our patients are presenting to our offices with substance-use disorders. We see the oral manifestations, such as hyposalivation, blackened caries, and periodontal disease that confirm our suspicions but still leave us uncomfortable not knowing our professional boundaries and responsibilities. Do we tell our patients, “Just Say No,” and keep drilling and filling? With more than 46.3 million Americans diagnosed with a substance-use disorders and drug-related deaths skyrocketing in this country, it is becoming harder for us to ignore and dismiss.
Is there something more that we can do? Is it time that we embrace our discomfort and address our patients’ substance-use disorders? Harm Reduction is a strategy to improve health outcomes for patients at-risk or with substance-use disorders. I had the opportunity to contribute an article in the Journal of the California Dental Association’s Special Edition on Medical-Dental Integration on Harm Reduction.