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Research shows prescribed opioid for dental issue increases chance of addiction

SAN FRANCISCO (KRON) - We have all heard about the opioid epidemic crisis crossing the country and now new research from the Stanford University School of Medicine says there an increased chance of addiction or abuse for teenagers and young adults who are prescribed an opioid for a dental issue.

“Patients who had not previously been exposed to opioids who were given a dental opioid presumably for wisdom teeth extractions went on to have about a 6% risk of being diagnosed with opioid abuse and about a 7% risk of having continued use about 3 months later,” Dr. Alan Schroeder of Stanford University School of Medicine said.

Dr. Schroeder says the study looked at 15,000 16- to 25-year-old dental patients who were prescribed opioid in 2015.

While the percentages may seem relatively low, the study's author says it is definitely a red flag.

“Particularly given this vulnerable age range, often times teenagers are about to go off to college and they’re given a bottle of 20 opioid pills. Maybe they need one, maybe they need none and now they’ve got this full bottle that may be used by themselves or others,” Schroeder said.

Dr. Schroeder says the first step is for dental professions to initially prescribe a non-opioid and if it turns out the pain is too much, maybe one of two opioid, not 20.

Researchers also say pulling wisdom teeth is like taking out tonsils, you just do it, but they say more research should be done to see if those extractions are warranted.

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