Study Puts Numbers to Dental Opioid Trends
The first introduction to opioids for teenagers and young adults is often in the dentist’s office when they are prescribed pain medications following oral surgery.
The first introduction to opioids for teenagers and young adults is often in the dentist’s office when they are prescribed pain medications following oral surgery. However, because opioid prescriptions may be associated with subsequent opioid abuse in this patient population, alternative therapies for managing acute dental pain may be warranted.
In the retrospective cohort study, “Association of Opioid Prescriptions From Dental Clinicians for U.S. Adolescents and Young Adults With Subsequent Opioid Use and Abuse,” published in JAMA Internal Medicine, researchers analyzed the private health insurance claims of 754,002 patients age 16 to 25 years. Of these individuals, 29,791 received one or more opioid prescriptions from a dentist. The median number of pills prescribed for third molar extractions was 20. Among the 14,888 individuals in the index dental opioid cohort, 1021 (6.9%) received another opioid prescription 90 to 365 days later, compared with 30 of 29,776 (0.1%) opioid-nonexposed controls. According to researchers, approximately 6% to 7% of adolescents and young adults exposed to opioids by dental providers may develop opioid abuse or addiction.
Oral health professionals are taking their role in the opioid epidemic seriously. The American Dental Association reports dentists have written nearly half a million fewer opioid prescriptions over a 5-year period — a drop from 18.5 million in 2012 to 18.1 million in 2017.
From Decisions in Dentistry. February 2019;5(2):8.