Dentists to Prescribe OTC Analgesics, Not Opioids

While the United States continues to reel under the epidemic of addiction to prescription pain relievers, fingers are also being raised at the dentists who are turning a blind eye to the issue. Although the prevailing laws don’t oversee how dentists manage pain for their patients, it is time for them to change their age-old prescribing strategies.

More and more young Americans are finding themselves addicted to opioids after getting their wisdom teeth extracted, revealed a new study by the Journal of the American Dental Association (JADA). They are generally ill-informed about the side effects of the medications and dangers of exceeding the prescribed doses. It has been found that dentists usually do not educate patients about proper disposal methods of prescription drugs and possibilities of slipping into their prolonged use.

Recently, about 60 percent of the opioid patients admitted to a treatment center said that they were given their first opioid pain reliever either by a dentist or a general physician, or they managed to get it from the medicine cabinet at home. Most people confessed that they never knew they could say “no” to a prescription or request something non-addictive.

Current prescribing strategies and the way forward

Dentists in America have a tendency to prescribe medications considering a “worst case scenario” pain in their patients. Their inability to anticipate the severity of pain in their patients leads to unnecessary prescriptions for patients who might not experience pain even after a medical procedure. As a result, only 20 percent of patients who will most likely experience severe pain, may experience benefits. Whereas, 80 percent of them may end up with medicines which they might not need.

Today, in the middle of the ongoing opioid epidemic, dentists and general practitioners are grappling with the challenge of accurately predicting which of their patients will experience severe pain. Therefore, non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), such as ibuprofen (Advil) or naproxen sodium (Aleve), should always be the first line of treatment for dental pain management. Apart from being non-addictive, they also work effectively in most of the cases.

Opioid pain medications, like Vicodin and Percocet, should only be used when NSAIDs fail to deliver the desired results. For patients with chronic dental post-surgical pain, another option to lower 100 percent dependence on opioid painkillers would be a combination of ibuprofen or naproxen with 500 mg of acetaminophen alone, which is fundamentally one Extra Strength Tylenol.

It is important to understand the gravity of the situation and ask physicians to prescribe non-narcotic drugs instead of habit-forming medications. It is the joint responsibility of both the patient and the medical practitioner to ensure that addiction-causing medicines are not prescribed unless there is a dire need.

Help is just a call away

Some of the ways to stay away from the dangers of prescription drugs are to use medications only as per the direction of medical practitioners and for a limited period of time, to store medications at a safe place, and to keep the prescriptions only to oneself. Various law enforcement agencies have introduced necessary guidelines to curb over prescription of opioids by doctors, including the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), to check opioid over prescription. As per the new CDC guidelines, medical practitioners must prescribe opioids only when alternative medications or behavioral therapies have failed to impart the necessary impact.

Prescription drug abuse is dangerous and its overdose can be fatal. Hence, treatment at the earliest is the only solution. If a loved one is grappling with prescription drug abuse and you are clueless about how to handle it, contact the Prescription Drug Addiction Helpline at866-623-3847 to connect to one of the best prescription drug abuse treatment centers. A call to our 24/7 prescription drug abuse helpline can pave the way for your loved one’s recovery with the help of the most reputed prescription drug abuse treatment clinic.