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Study Shows Dental Painkillers May Lead Teenagers to Addiction

Dr. Jeffrey Berman, MD By December 28, 2018
A new study published in JAMA Internal Medicine Monday has found that dentists who prescribe opioid painkillers to young adults may be leading their patients down the road to addiction. Opioid addiction has become an epidemic in the United States, with more than 70,000 drug-related overdoes taking place in 2017 alone. Notably, the report indicates that young females are specifically finding themselves caught up in the opioid epidemic.

Any young adults who are dealing with addiction right now should look into the best New Jersey rehab options instead of trying to deal with this problem on their own.

An Introduction to Highly Addictive Painkillers

According to the recent study, many teens and young adults are introduced to pain killers for the first time when they get their third molars removed. Millions of people go through this procedure every year in the United States, but most dentists are only now wondering if they should be prescribing such strong painkillers to their young patients. In 2009, dentists prescribed opioids to young people more than any other type of medical professional.

The study also notes that roughly 5 percent of young people who received their first opioid prescription from a dentist in 2015 found themselves addicted to the substance within a year. Those numbers rise to 10 percent when only counting female patients. Those who were not prescribed the painkillers during the same time period had an addiction percentage of less than one-half of a percent.

In terms of individuals from the ages of 16 to 25, 13 percent of them are said to have received at least one prescription for opioids in 2015. Of those who received a prescription, 30 percent got it from their dentist. This is based on the health insurance claims of nearly 100,000 individuals.

Another recent study that looked at a wider age group (13 to 30) found that those who received opioids after wisdom tooth surgery were three times more likely to eventually develop an addiction as opposed to those who did not go to the pharmacy to get any opioids after the surgery.

Over-the-Counter Options?

One of the most troubling aspects of the report is that most people who get their wisdom teeth removed don’t actually need to use strong painkillers to get through the process. The study indicates that most young people would be fine if they only used Advil or Tylenol to numb the pain. In fact, another study from April of this year found that ibuprofen works better than opioids when it comes to dealing with dental-specific pain.

An Epidemic

Opioid addiction has been on an unimaginable rise over the past couple of decades, with six times as many people dying from overdoes last year than they did at the turn of the millennium. Having said that, reports indicate there has been a modest decline in the prescribing of opioids by doctors over the past few years.
If you or a loved one have developed what you believe is an addiction to opioids, please contact us today to learn how to kick the habit for good.

Article Reviewed by Dr. Jeffrey Berman, MD

Dr. Jeffrey Berman, MDDr. Jeffrey Berman is a psychiatrist in Teaneck, New Jersey and is affiliated with Robert Wood Johnson University Hospital. He received his medical degree from State University of New York Upstate Medical University and has been in practice for more than 20 years. He also speaks multiple languages, including French and Hebrew.

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