Dentists with addictions were the focus of a joint conference sponsored by CDA and the Canadian Dental Regulatory Authorities Federation (CDRAF), in Toronto in October 2012. Close to 80 participants, including representatives from dental regulatory authorities and provincial dental associations, attended the conference entitled On the Road to Wellness: Dealing with Addiction Disease in Dentistry.
Conference participants learned about the science of addiction and its implications for the treatment of dentists struggling with addiction disease. Another theme discussed at the conference was the role of regulators and professional associations in addressing addictions and identifying barriers to offering assistance.
It’s estimated that about 15–18% of dentists in the United States struggle with addiction disease. “Although we don’t have statistics on addiction for Canadian dentists, there’s no reason to think the numbers here are much different,” says Dr. Benoit Soucy, CDA director of clinical and scientific affairs. “But with the right support, health care professionals with addictions can recover—the current recovery rate is up to 90% after 5 years.”
Conference participants agreed that a collaborative and coordinated approach from regulators and professional associations is needed to support dentists with addictions.
“Working together, I know we can create a culture of support and understanding within dentistry where no dentist is adrift with a prevailing sense of helplessness in the face of an addiction,” says Dr. Peter Trainor, CDRAF president.
Dr. Robert Sutherland, CDA president, reinforced this sentiment, “This is not a professional issue, nor a regulatory issue—it is a human issue.”
Outcomes of the conference included a commitment from CDA and the CDRAF to commence the gathering and dissemination of wellness resource materials for dentists.