The Rutgers School of Dental Medicine will receive $11.7 million to study pain management methods besides opioids for dental patients.

Rutgers will lead the study in concert with four other universities, according to

"The opioid prescriptions by dentists has dramatically gone down," Dean Cecile Feldman told New Jersey 101.5. "But there's still way too much prescribing of opioids."

Often, Feldman said, opioids are prescribed after surgery to minimize discomfort or pain — it takes a few days for healing to start. But over-the-counter drugs like ibuprofen and acetaminophen in combination can also be used to manage pain.

"Opioids ... the only thing that they do is make it so an individual does not care about the pain, whereas Advil and Tylenol, ibuprofen and acetaminophen, they actually block the pain mechanism, so that people do not feel pain," Feldman said.

She said the school is trying to minimize the number of opioids on the streets. It is  formulating the study this year, and it is scheduled to begin by late next summer.

Joe Cutter is the afternoon news anchor on New Jersey 101.5

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