Winter is here, and many people use this time of year to have their wisdom teeth removed or other dental procedures so they can snuggle up on the couch for a few days with no guilt. Typically, pain after oral surgery is treated with a combination of prescription pain medication along with ibuprofen and acetaminophen. But recent studies have indicated that if possible, it might be better to avoid the narcotic pain medication altogether, particularly in young adults.
Researchers found that in a group of approximately 15,000 individuals ages 16 to 25 who received their first prescription for opioid painkillers from a dentist or dental surgeon, around 7 percent filled another opioid prescription 90 to 365 days later. During the year following their dental procedure, approximately 6 percent who had had a prescription for opioids had a “health care encounter” in the year following in which a diagnosis of opioid abuse was documented.
The typical prescription that caused the issues was a pack of 20 pills of OxyContin, Vicodin or Percocet.
The good news is that taking a combination of acetaminophen (Tylenol) and ibuprofen (Advil) or naproxen (Aleve) can often combat the majority of the pain after oral surgery. One study found that for adults, a combination of 400 mg of ibuprofen plus 1000 mg of acetaminophen was superior to any opioid-containing medications studied.
In March of 2018, the American Dental Association announced a new policy regarding prescribing opioids, which supports mandates on prescription limits and continuing education.
The ADA’s policy states:
- The ADA supports mandatory continuing education in prescribing opioids and other controlled substances.
- The ADA supports statutory limits on opioid dosage and duration of no more than seven days for the treatment of acute pain, consistent with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention evidence-based guidelines.
- The ADA supports dentists registering with and utilizing Prescription Drug Monitoring Programs (PDMPs) to promote the appropriate use of opioids and deter misuse and abuse.
At Enlighten Dental Care, above all we care about keeping our patients safe. If you have any questions about treatment for pain or caring for your teeth after oral surgery, please contact us at (336) 765-0904.