Addressing the Opioid Crisis
The opioid crisis in the United States is very real. In 2015, the state recorded a record 472 deaths from opioid overdoses.
In this video, Dr. Hayes talks about how he is doing his part to prevent an opioid addiction by using updated pain management medication local to the area the procedure was performed. Learn more about this approach in the video below.
"My name is Dr. Curt Hayes. I am a USAFA (United States Air Force Academy) class of '99. I'm currently in the reserves stationed as an IMA up in Cheyenne at FE Warren. I opened up Coal Creek Oral Surgery in May of 2017. We've been open for about 7 months now and we're really trying to be part of the community, and integrating into the local area. I went into the academy thinking I was going to be a pilot, pretty much like everyone else, I think, and it just came to the point where I wasn't going to be able to do that and I needed to choose a different career path. I had a mentor there that said, 'Hey, they're opening up this dental program, why don't you go look at it?', and so I chose to go into dentistry.
"I feel like I've been a leader in my community. I've been on Colorado Public Radio, National Public Radio (NPR) really pushing for the decrease use of opioids. Opioids have been a part of pain management for decades and decades. So this is not unique to me, not unique to dentistry or unique to the Air Force. We do have a problem in Boulder County. We have a problem in Colorado, as do most states of overdose or increase in the number people that are using are increasing.
"When you look at the numbers, a good number of people have their first exposure to opioids through wisdom teeth [removal], and you know, that's my frontline, and there's something I can do about it.
"So it's not just the number of exposures we have; it's the extra pills that are leftover. Say I prescribe someone 12 tablets of an opioid and then they don't use it all. They usually end up in a cabinet somewhere waiting for someone to abuse them. Or, some of those I'm sure end up on the street somehow. We know that it happens. The reality is if I can do my part as a doctor to decrease the potential for that, I think it's helpful.
"So I started looking around at different options and as I was reading the journals--the OBGYN world was using a medication for C-sections so that they wouldn't have to give narcotics to mothers, and so we were able to transition that into the oral surgery field, and try to decrease the number of opioids that are being given out.
"The medication that we have is a long-term, local anesthetic. So, instead of leaving your entire lower lip numb after a wisdom teeth [removal], it just leaves the area around the surgery numb. Because of that, I can send people home on ibuprofen or maybe a little Tylenol and we don't have to expose them to opioids.
"Patients have loved it. The parents have really embraced it. I mean the ability to have your wisdom teeth taken out the day before Thanksgiving, and to be eating Thanksgiving dinner without an issue...or the patient who is in pain from their wisdom teeth, and I can take the teeth out, and they can go back to work the next day is a significant impact. For those people who are on an hourly wage--that they aren't losing more money than they have to, and they're able to still support their families.
"The ability to truly be helping people when they are in pain, when they've had a traumatic situation--it motivates me. When we were at the academy we were always taught to seek out opportunities and to step out, and do the right thing, even if it isn't the easiest way to do it.
"Really advancing this drug and some of the other medications is not the easy way to do it. The easy way would be to sit back, and prescribe narcotics like everyone else."
Dr. Hayes is a nationally recognized dental oral surgeon. His Lafayette oral surgery practice opened in May of 2017 and continues to become part of the community. Dr. Hayes graduated from the United States Air Force Academy in 1999. He was the Air Force Dentist of the Year in 2013, an esteemed award given to only one person out of ~318,000 Air Force personnel.
Dr. Hayes and Coal Creek Oral Surgery and Dental Implant Center performs wisdom teeth extraction, dental implants, all-on-4 (all on fours), bone grafting, anesthesia, sleep apnea solutions, jaw surgery, facial trauma and more. Our office is located in Lafayette, and is close to Broomfield, Louisville, Boulder and Erie.