Continuing Dental Education

CE1812: Illicit Drugs and the Dental Patient


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Course Description

Have you ever had to face the prospect of treating a medically-complex patient? Have you ever had a patient needing treatment for a dental emergency who has more than one underlying chronic disease? What about your patients of record who are on more than five medications? Now what if these same patients are also experimenting with illicit drugs? How does the use of marijuana, cocaine, methamphetamine, crack, Salvia divinorum, khat bush, or designer drugs such as MDPV change your treatment plan?

Drug abuse remains a major problem in our society. According to The National Survey on Drug Use and Health conducted by SAMSHA (Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration), between 2006 and 2008 an estimated 4.3 million (4.7%) adults aged 50 or older had used an illicit drug in the previous year. Moreover, the organization’s combined data from 2002 to 2007 showed that over 8.3 million children (11.9%) lived with at least one parent who was dependent on or abused alcohol or an illicit drug during the past year. Among that population almost 2.1 million (3.0%) lived with a parent who was dependent on or abused illicit drugs. Young adults aged 18 to 25 have been shown to be the most likely to use methamphetamine.

Providing dental care to anxious, fearful and medically-complex patients continues to be a major challenge facing dentists. Now more than ever, dental professionals are faced with the additional challenge of treating these patients’ oral health needs in the face of potential illicit drug use such that the simple approach to, “drilling and filling” has just been cranked up a few more notches. If substance abuse and dependence affects one in ten Americans, this means one in ten of your patients. This interactive program looks at some of these most challenging patients, their most common negative sequelae due to illicit drug use and the management of these patients with a particular focus on the dental realm. Case studies will augment the delivery of key points and a problem-based learning approach is encouraged so that each participant’s questions are addressed. Most importantly, you will learn directly applicable strategies to successfully treat these medically-complex patients on Monday morning. After all, our goal is to make sure all dental appointments are not just successful for your patient, but also for you and your staff.

Course Objectives

As a result of attending this program you will be able to:

  • Discuss the four main challenges of medically complex dental patients
  • Understand the concept of risk and how to select and de-select appropriate patients.
  • Describe the risk factors to consider when treating patients who use illicit drugs.
  • Recognize some of the oral signs of illicit drug use and how to better manage these patients.
  • Understand the pathophysiology of drug-xerostomia and current treatment options.
  • Learn how to help make all of your appointments successful for you, your Team and your patients.


Mark Donaldson received his baccalaureate degree from the University of British Columbia, and his Doctorate in Clinical Pharmacy from the University of Washington. He completed a residency at Vancouver General Hospital, and has practiced as a clinical pharmacy specialist, clinical coordinator and director of pharmacy services at many healthcare organizations in both Canada and the United States. He is currently the Associate Principal of Clinical Pharmacy for Vizient’s Advisory Solutions, and lives in Whitefish, Montana.

Dr. Donaldson is a Clinical Professor in the Department of Pharmacy at the University of Montana in Missoula, and Clinical Associate Professor in the School of Dentistry at the Oregon Health & Sciences University in Portland, Oregon. He has a special interest in dental pharmacology and has lectured internationally to both dental and medical practitioners. He has spent the last 20 years focusing on dental pharmacology and dental therapeutics, and is a leader in the field.

Dr. Donaldson has published numerous peer-reviewed works and textbook chapters. He currently serves on the Editorial Board for the Journal Healthcare Executive and the Journal of the American Dental Association and is a reviewer for over ten other different journals. He is board certified in healthcare management and is the Past-President and current Regent of the American College of Healthcare Executives’ Montana Chapter. Dr. Donaldson was named as the 2014 recipient of the Bowl of Hygeia for the state of Montana and is the 2016 recipient of the Dr. Thaddeus V. Weclew Award. This award is conferred upon an individual who has made outstanding contributions to the medical, dental and pharmacy literature.


  • Dr. Donaldson has no relevant financial relationships to disclose.
  • The staff of the University of Washington Office of Continuing Dental Education have no relevant financial relationships to disclose.

Course Logistics

Saturday, October 6, 2018

University of Washington
Health Sciences Center, Room D209
Seattle, WA 98195

This course is designed for dentists, hygienists, dental assistants and office staff.

Download Course Application Form
Register Online (available until the Wednesday before the course).

Registration and Continental Breakfast: 8:00am – 8:30am
Course: 8:30am – 12:30pm

Until October 3, 2018 (after, $25 more)
$99/Hygienist, Dental Assistant, Office Staff
$143/Current Dental Alumni Member

* This course is eligible for a 10% tuition discount if you are a current member of the UW Dental Alumni Association.

4 hours

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The University of Washington is an ADA CERP Recognized Provider.
ADA CERP is a service of the American Dental Association to assist dental professionals in identifying quality providers of continuing dental education. ADA CERP does not approve or endorse individual courses or instructors, nor does it imply acceptance of credit hours by boards of dentistry.

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The University of Washington is a member of the Association for Continuing Dental Education.

University of Washington designates this activity for 4 continuing education credits.