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Harold K. Tu  

Director of the Division of Oral and Maxillofacial Surgery in the University of Minnesota’s School of Dentistry

Harold K. Tu, DMD, MD, FACS, is associate professor and director of the Division of Oral and Maxillofacial Surgery in the University of Minnesota’s School of Dentistry. A graduate from the University of Oregon Dental School, Dr. Tu received his medical degree from the University of Nebraska Medical School and completed his oral and maxillofacial surgery (OMS) residency and general surgery internship at the University of Nebraska Medical Center.

Dr. Tu joined the University of Nebraska faculty in 1982, serving in a number of positions including the director of the OMS Residency Program, The OMS Externship Program and the Oral Facial Implant Clinic, and chair of the Quality Assurance Committee. In 1991, Dr. Tu became the first oral and maxillofacial surgeon in Nebraska to be credentialed in facial cosmetic surgery. He also served as section chief of oral surgery at the Nebraska Methodist Hospital and as a board member of the Metro Omaha Medical Society. In 2006, he received the Milagro Award from One World Health for providing outstanding care.

Dr. Tu has experience shaping best practices and prescribing protocols for opioids through his current directorship. In 2016, the UMN School of Dentistry became the first dental school in the nation to mandate new evidence-based prescribing protocols in its clinics. Since implementation, the UMN School of Dentistry has seen a 70% drop in the number of opioid prescriptions. Along with implementing these protocols in clinics, the School of Dentistry is also teaching new prescribing protocols to dentistry students and residents, ensuring that future generations of dental professionals will graduate with an evidence-based approach to pain management.

In 2018, Dr. Tu was appointed to the new, federal Pain Management Best Practices Inter-Agency Task Force. Formed by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, the task force is charged with proposing updates to best practices and recommending solutions to gaps or inconsistencies in managing chronic and acute pain.


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Breaking the Opioid Habit in Dentists’ Offices

Dentists and oral surgeons are by far the major prescribers of opioids for people ages 10 to 19. That’s an age when the growing brain, which doesn’t mature until 25, is particularly susceptible to being taken over by opioids — even if the dosage seems too small to produce addiction.

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