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Health pros in La Crosse County praised for discouraging opioid use for tooth pain

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Have you ever had a toothache so painful, you went to the hospital for help, and they sent you home with pain pills?

Plenty of people in Wisconsin apparently have become hooked on dangerous drugs that way, and La Crosse County has made progress in finding other medicines to treat dental pain.

The county’s program on dental pain relief was honored recently with a reception at the Freight House, attended by state and local health leaders.

Dr. Chris Eberlein has worked with La Crosse’s Alliance to Heal for several years, leading efforts to reduce opioid addiction.

He said the “dental pain protocol” program is about “getting (patients) appropriate care that is timely, it controls their pain, and gets them into definitive care that we weren’t able to do as well before.”

Dr. David Gundersen, a dentist from Madison, is a spokesman for a statewide pain protocol group. He said too many people head to the ER when they feel mouth pain.

“What’s happened historically is that they’ve been given often times hydrocodone, oxycodone, some sort of opioid,” Gundersen said, “an antibiotic, and then often times sent out the door without any definitive care for the problem.”

Gundersen added that the La Crosse area is committed to treating that pain without opioids. Th area is credited as the first community in the state to adopt the Dental Pain Protocol.

A native of Prairie du Chien, Brad graduated from UW - La Crosse and has worked in radio news for more than 30 years, mostly in the La Crosse area. He regularly covers local courts and city and county government. Brad produces the features "Yesterday in La Crosse" and "What's Buried on Brad's Desk." He also writes the website "Triviazoids," which finds odd connections between events that happen on a certain date, and he writes and performs with the local comedy group Heart of La Crosse. Brad been featured on several national TV programs because of his memory skills.

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