A new survey of U.S. dentists finds 43% say they regularly prescribe opioid medications, even though 84% say combinations of non-opioid pain relievers are as effective as opioids, or even more so, HealthDay reports.
In the Journal of the American Dental Association, the researchers wrote that the continued prescription of opioids contradicts mounting evidence about the superiority of nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) over opioids in dentistry.
“Dentists should seek to minimize opioid prescribing and pill counts and instead opt for safer, more effective NSAID-acetaminophen combinations,” the researchers wrote. “Dentists also should refrain from prescribing opioids to patients younger than 25 years because of the high risk of experiencing addiction in this population.”
“We know that the first exposure to opioids for many people occurs in their teens and early 20s following common dental procedures like third molar extractions,” study co-author Nkechi Nwokorie said in a Georgetown University news release. “This is a particularly vulnerable population for misuse.”