Approximately 85% of people will need to have wisdom teeth extracted at some point during their lives. Dental procedures are not without risk, but young people who use opioids after the procedure may be three times more likely to fill opioid prescriptions long-term. Opioids routinely are prescribed following wisdom tooth removal.
A lesser known connection is becoming more widely known about how pain relief medication like opioids are linked to dental work. A study has warned doctors and dentists to be wary of using opioids due to high levels of dependence following surgery. New persistent opioid use can accompany surgical complications from dental work, affecting more than 3.5 million extractions of wisdom teeth taking place each year. The most vulnerable among them are teens and young adults who are being exposed to opioids early in development. In spite of increased awareness of the dangers, dentists have been accused of over-prescribing painkillers as rates of opioid prescriptions continue to climb.
From Risk to Reward
The biggest issue with opioid use following wisdom tooth extraction is that people need proper pain management following dental surgery. There must be a firm commitment to help fight the country’s opioid epidemic while continuing to help people manage pain effectively. It is important to look at areas where people can eliminate exposure to opioids and decrease long-term risk. Some of the possible benefits to people are less risk of exposure to a potentially addictive substance and healthier pain relief options. While physicians and dentists wrestle with these hard questions, patients are eagerly waiting for better pain management solutions that do not put themselves or their loved ones (including teens) at risk.
Over-the-counter pain pills are safer and even more effective than prescription opioids for controlling pain following dental procedures. Oral medication including over-the-counter drugs like ibuprofen and acetaminophen showed greater results than opioid or opioid-containing medicine or a similar combination of drugs. In terms of pain relief, this is a great thing for patients looking for non-addictive substances to support post-op pain relief.
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