Wisdom tooth surgery is a common procedure for many teens and young adults, but this surgery may be the doorway to opioid dependency and addiction.
When dentists prescribe opioid painkillers to alleviate the pain associated with wisdom tooth surgery, many young people are at risk of developing debilitating opioid addictions. Our opioid detox professionals explore the connection between wisdom teeth surgery and addiction along with alternatives to this dangerous prescription.
How Getting Wisdom Teeth Removed Increases Risks of Opioid Addiction
Studies show that opioid prescriptions written to those who have never taken prescription painkillers increase the risk of opioid addiction. In a recent study of 15,000 patients aged 16-25, 6% of those who were prescribed opioids following dental surgery were diagnosed with opioid abuse disorder within one year of their prescription.1 This opioid addiction statistic shows that dental surgery and subsequent prescribing of opioid painkillers can put patients at risk.
Common drug slang names for wisdom teeth surgery painkillers like OxyContin and Percocet include oxy, perc, and blues.
Do Dentists Prescribe Painkillers for Wisdom Teeth?
Many dentists prescribe painkillers for wisdom teeth, specifically the surgery associated with removing wisdom teeth. Patients who get a wisdom teeth removal prescription for painkillers may find themselves facing a new problem – addiction.
Doctors, dentists, and other medical professionals are anxious for favorable reviews or marks on patient satisfaction surveys. But patient satisfaction surveys may be worsening the opioid epidemic, with the over-prescription of drugs for better marks on these surveys. There are alternatives to wisdom teeth surgery painkillers.
The Statistics of Wisdom Teeth Surgery and Addiction
One recent study linked wisdom teeth surgery and addiction, with 5.8 percent of a 15,000 patient sample group receiving an opioid dependency diagnosis within a year of their initial prescription for opioids.2
Young adults and teenagers who are prescribed opioid painkillers after wisdom teeth removal surgery are especially susceptible to addiction, as their brain chemistry is wired for the quick acting reward cycle these drugs provide. Patients may begin taking painkillers after wisdom teeth surgery and quickly develop an addiction where they are taking more painkillers than they were initially prescribed or taking the drugs more frequently than recommended. Unfortunately, unchecked painkiller addiction can spiral into other forms of opioid addiction, including heroin addiction.
Alternatives to Opioid Painkillers
With recent studies identifying the strong connection between wisdom teeth surgery and painkiller addiction, dentists are exploring alternatives to prescription pills following dental surgery. Studies show that medications such as acetaminophen and ibuprofen actually work better than opioids when it comes to relieving pain after dental surgery.2 Worse yet, any dental surgeries removing wisdom teeth (third molars) may not be as necessary as once believed. Reports show that of the 5 million people who have wisdom teeth removed annually, only 12% of the procedures are truly necessary.3
Worse yet, any dental surgeries removing wisdom teeth (third molars) may not be as necessary as once believed. Reports show that of the 5 million people who have wisdom teeth removed annually, only 12% of the procedures are truly necessary.4
Treating Opioid Addiction
If you or someone you love is struggling with opioid painkiller addiction, our team is here to help. We offer programs for detox after surgery, along with a variety of types of therapy for drug addiction.
Call 888-280-4763 to get started on finding sobriety.
- JAMA – Association of Opioid Prescriptions From Dental Clinicians for US Adolescents and Young Adults With Subsequent Opioid Use and Abuse
- Stanford Medicine – Opioid prescriptions from dentists linked to youth addiction risk
- Washington Post – Study: Dental painkillers may put young people at risk of opioid addiction
- NCBI – The Prophylactic Extraction of Third Molars: A Public Health Hazard