La Crosse leaders celebrate progress in the fight against opioid abuse

LA CROSSE (WKBT) — La Crosse is leading the way in the fight to combat the opioid epidemic.

Local leaders are celebrating the success of the Wisconsin Dental Pain Protocol, which reduces opioid use and connects more people to dental care.

In Wisconsin, about 18,000 patients go to emergency rooms to alleviate tooth pain each year and most leave the hospital with an opioid prescription.

The Wisconsin program gives health systems tools to limit opioid usage including hands-on training and supplies for oral anesthesia.

La Crosse County providers took part in the pilot program.

“La Crosse is on the cutting edge of something that’s now taking off nationally and it is a true collaboration,” said local dentist David Gundersen. “It is all of our health systems. It is the public health department. It is local dentists–private and public–that have stepped up and said ‘Hey, we’re gonna do something about this issue.'”

Gundersen says La Crosse providers not only reduce opioid abuse but they also improve dental health.

Last year, 550 people in La Crosse County were referred for local dental care.

Recent News Headlines from News 8 Now 

Father of slain Onalaska toddler now behind bars for domestic violence 

Parents criticize La Crosse School Board and superintendent over consolidation 

The Little Heart Project: An Onalaska woman’s mission to spread love with crochet 

Semi-trailer truck nearly hits home in Dakota, Minn.