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Opioid Use in Dental Care

Opioids, often called “pain killers”, are narcotic pain relievers that are only received with a prescription from your physician. Because of their strength, they must be taken carefully by following your doctor’s instructions.

Lately the news has focused a lot on the misuse of opioid pain relievers-such as hydrocodone, oxycodone, morphine and codeine; stating that abuse of the prescription narcotics has reached epidemic proportions. So much now that the ADA has begun urging dentists everywhere to take steps to help prevent the widespread abuse.

Are Opioids Safe?

When taken as prescribed and managed carefully managed, they are a safe and effective method for relieving severe pain. However, when abused, they are very addictive and can also act as a gateway into the abuse of additional drugs.

Opioids work because they cause your body to release a hormone called dopamine, which makes your brain feel like your pain is lessening. Dopamine also causes you to feel pleasure, which is how it becomes addictive.

Should I Take Pain Killers for my Dental Procedure?

This requires an in-depth conversation with your dentist. Your dentist will make the best decision for you based on the procedure that you are having and your medical history. No approach is for everyone, but for your dentist to make the best plan of action, it is very important that you are completely honest in your medical history and if you have ever struggled with addiction.

Additional Options

To help combat abuse or addiction, dentist may consider other options to prescribing opioids. This may include:

  • non-steroid, anti-inflammatory analgesics as a first-line against acute pain management.
  • treatment options that utilize best practices to prevent exacerbation of or relapse of opioid misuse.

They may also communicate and work with additional treating doctors or pain specialists when prescribing opioids for chronic pain management.

The best plan of action is to work with your dentist and any other physicians, ask questions, and follow the guidelines. Remember, your dentist is there to help you get safely through your procedure and recovery.