Does the Dentist hold some responsibility in the opioid epidemic? A new study published in JAMA Internal Medicine Monday, suggests they might.
Adolescents and young adults often are introduced to highly addictive opioid painkillers when they have their wisdom teeth pulled. Millions of Americans undergo the procedure every year, and dentists routinely prescribe opioids to the vast majority.
The average number of pain pills was 20 pills per patient.
Nearly 7 percent of the young people were prescribed even more opioids between three months and a year after their initial dental prescription, and nearly 6 percent were actually diagnosed with opioid abuse in the year after the first dental opioid was prescribed to them, researchers said.
Randi Okray says when she had her wisdom teeth pulled out her dentist gave her Hydrocodone. She says he gave her 15 pills. "I took it for like a day, I only took two pills because it was very strong and it made me nauseous and caused a headache, I didn't like it,” she says.
Most people who have their wisdom teeth removed do just as well or better on over-the-counter pain relievers than opioids. An April study in the Journal of the American Dental Association found that anti-inflammatory analgesics, such as ibuprofen and acetaminophen, generally work better than opioids at easing acute dental pain.