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Are Dentists Contributing to Prescription Opioid Abuse?

Are Dentists Contributing to Prescription Opioid Abuse?  The answer is probably!

Are Dentists Contributing to Prescription Opioid Abuse?  Our dental office hopes to do what we can to prevent contributing to narcotic abuse.  The questions we will be asking are:

  1. Do our patients need a narcotic prescription after their dental treatment?
  2. How many tablets is appropriate?

Have you ever had dental surgery?  Have you ever been prescribed opioids for pain?  Were you one of the many who left several tablets unused and not disposed of correctly?  That is Prescription Opioid Abuse.

Prescription Opioids - sometimes needed, sometimes not!

Prescription Opioids – sometimes needed, sometimes not!

The rate of overdose deaths due to prescription narcotics or  Prescription Opioids has more than tripled in the past 20 years!  And, it is a fact that using narcotic pain pills when they are not needed can contribute to addiction.

A recent study noted that 100 million prescription opioids go unused every single year following tooth extractions.  Another study conducted by the University of Pennsylvania Schools of Medicine and Dental Medicine found that more than half of opioids prescribed were left unused by the patients.  There is an opioid epidemic currently.  Evidence shows that people who abuse prescription opioids often use leftover pills that were prescribed for friends or family members.  Your dentist should not be contributing to this epidemic!

Pain following a typical dental procedure such as an uncomplicated extraction is effectively managed with over-the-counter (OTC) medications.   Most dental pain is due to inflammation,and most NSAIDS like ibuprofen have strong anti-inflammatory effects.

What we want! Smiling, comfortable patients!

What we want! Smiling, comfortable patients!

Many articles confirm that  providing opioids like oxycodone or hydrocodone

  • Does not decrease inflammation any more than ibuprofen
  • Does not prevent opioid abuse, and
  • May lead directly to opioid overdoses, exposing you to opioid abuse, leading to possible dependence and opioid overdose death!

Although Hydrocodone/Tylenol combinations are the most wisely prescribed analgesic in the United States, there is no published data indicating that they result in pain relief any better than common NSAIDS like Ibuprofen or Naprosyn.  My recommendation (ooh the self promoting blog!) would be to read our blog on pain management after dentistry (https://www.juliegillisdds.com/blog/). If you do have leftover prescription narcotics or opioids – dispose of them correctly!

Yours for better dental health,

Julie Gillis DDS, PC

Restoring Smiles/Restoring Health