Collaboration key to managing dental pain without opioids - from Dean Borgia

Dr. Anthony "Tom" Borgia

One of the most recent and exciting things to happen here in the West Virginia University School of Dentistry is a direct result of our school’s newly formed leadership council.  Its members  serve as an advisory board to me and our entire management team. 

Dr. Richard Thomas, a member of the School of Dentistry class of 1986, is part of our leadership council.  After serving in the United States Army Dental Corps, Dr. Thomas returned home to WVU and obtained his MD degree, eventually pursing residency in otolaryngology. 

After outstanding service to his country, Dr. Thomas retired as a Major General (two stars) and was subsequently named the President of the Uniformed Services University of the Health Sciences in Washington, DC. 

Through collaborative efforts and President Thomas’s good offices, the dental school will be partnering with an organization known as the Defense & Veterans Center for Integrative Pain Management (DVCIPM – pronounced DV sip’em!) to study and evaluate methods of addressing and resolving all manners of pain and associated anxiety.  DVCIPM has many attributes, looking at everything from dealing with battlefield injuries to post traumatic stress syndrome, PTSD, to even dental anxiety! 

Our role will be to evaluate a specific method of alleviating dental anxiety, a program that will be administered and assessed through the dental school’s Department of Dental Hygiene. Simultaneously, the Departments of Oral Surgery and Endodontics will utilize procedures and methods that could eliminate or lower the use of narcotic analgesia for postoperative pain following endodontic treatment and after oral surgery.

It is an exciting field of study, and the WVU School of Dentistry will be at the forefront of exploring potential ways of changing the way we can improve lives, eliminate or reduce pain and anxiety, while at the same time meeting the opioid crisis head on by greatly reducing and eventually removing the need for such medications from our pharmacologic inventory and treatment plans.

We anticipate that this will just be the beginning of many collaborations with USU, and we are looking forward to developing a close relationship with them, the military and the U.S. Department of Veterans Administration. 

West Virginia is the home of many veterans, and a significant number of them have service related disabilities.  As a land grant institution, it is our mission to treat the citizens of our state and our veterans are a most deserving group to be the beneficiaries of our expertise. 

We welcome any and all opportunities to assist in making their lives better. Being pioneers in that effort will bring the School of Dentistry and West Virginia University new relationships and a new understanding of our roles as vital members of the healthcare delivery team.

As always, my door is always open, so let’s have some discussions.  Bring your thoughts and ideas and we’ll provide the coffee! 

Teamwork and collaboration – the only way to be successful and to get things done.  And get things done we will!  Quoting William Arthur Ward, “If you can imagine it, you can achieve it. If you can dream it, you can become it.”

Anthony T. Borgia, DDS, MHA
WVU School of Dentistry