To ease the discomfort that may result from some dental procedures, such as tooth extraction, gums and other dental surgeries, or placement of dental implants, dentists can prescribe medications to relieve pain, including opioids. As a doctor of dental medicine or doctor of dental surgery, your dentist can prescribe medications as needed for dental care, just like a doctor. This includes antibiotics to fight infection, muscle relaxants for jaw pain, anesthetics and sedatives to help during procedures, and other medications that help us keep you and your mouth healthy, including pain relievers. At one point, it was quite common for dentists to prescribe opioids for dental pain due to a lack of understanding in the general medical community about the long-term negative effects and prevalence of addiction.
Fortunately, this is changing as we fully understand the seriousness of our nation's opioid crisis. Dentists are Leading the Way to Take a More Conscious and Cautious Approach to Opioid Prescribing. If opioids are needed, we focus on making sure they are used responsibly and on a very temporary basis. Some dental procedures, emergencies and surgeries, such as removing wisdom teeth or inserting dental implants, can cause short-term discomfort.
To Provide Relief, Dentists Can Prescribe Medications. However, a study published in The Journal of the American Dental Association reports that extensive research shows the effectiveness of over-the-counter drugs. Combined with concerns about the potential dangers of opioids, it has resulted in less emphasis on prescribing opioids for dental problems. Tell your dentist if you are taking other medications or if you or your family members have had substance abuse problems.
Opioids are generally safe when used for a short period of time to relieve oral pain, as prescribed by a dentist or other health professional. While non-opioid pain relievers can be just as effective, patients who undergo dental procedures just before weekends and holidays are more likely to fill opioid prescriptions. Michigan OPEN has created two free brochures for dental offices to give to patients: one on the proper use of non-opioid pain relievers and the other on the proper use and risks of opioids. However, many still prescribe opioid medications to their patients, especially younger ones, a trend that may open the door to possible misuse, diversion and addiction, according to a new study by The Journal of the American Dental Association (JADA).
A survey of 269 dentists conducted by the PharmedOut program at Georgetown University Medical Center reported that 84 percent of respondents believe that a combination of nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), such as ibuprofen, combined with acetaminophen, is equally or more effective than opioids. According to the American Dental Association, these dental emergencies bring nearly 2 million people to the emergency room with dental pain each year. Most dentists know that there are non-opioid pain relievers that are as effective in controlling dental pain as opioid medications such as OxyContin, Percocet, and Vicodin. As dentists and their teams across the United States return to their regular schedules after a sharp reduction related to COVID-19, a new study shows a key opportunity to reduce their patients' use of opioid painkillers.
Adolescents and young adults were the most likely to receive opioids, which were probably prescribed for use during the weekend or vacation without needing to contact the dentist for pain treatment. Cost estimates for services provided by out-of-network dentists (available in the out-of-network estimator) are based on claim data submitted for out-of-network providers. Greg Grillo, a dentist in Washington and spokesman for Express Dentist, told Healthline that there are certain dental procedures where opioids are more suitable for pain relief. The guidelines say that for tooth extractions, nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs and over-the-counter pain relievers should be sufficient for pain control.