Connecting Dots Between Opioids, Oral Health

Thursday, February 7th, 2019 2:45pm

By Mary Kuhlman, Indiana News Service

Hoosiers are encouraged to seek alternatives to opioids to cope with dental pain.

Photo by Matt Lemmon/Flickr

(Indianapolis, Ind.) - Oral health is a key component in fighting the opioid epidemic, and dental professionals and their patients in Indiana are encouraged to take a more proactive role in prevention. 

Dentists and oral surgeons write 12 percent of all opioid prescriptions. While often necessary to combat dental pain, opioids come with a high risk of misuse and addiction. 

That's why UnitedHealthcare Dental is focusing on reducing painkiller prescriptions and promoting proper use. 

As chief dental officer for the company, Dr. Ted Wong stresses there are other alternatives to manage pain. 

"Instead of Vicodin or Percocet, which are the typical opioids that are prescribed, recent studies have shown that a combination of Tylenol with Motrin are as effective if not more effective as opioids for dental pain and you don't have the risk of the opioid addiction," he points out.

Following recommendations from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), first-time opioid prescriptions written by UnitedHealthcare Dental health professionals will be limited to three days for people ages 19 and younger. 

More than 130 Americans die each day from opioid overdoses, and nearly half are estimated to be related to prescription opioids. 

Dentists write nearly half of all opioid prescriptions for adolescents, and about two-in-three patients ages 16 to 22 are prescribed an opioid following a wisdom tooth extraction. 

Wong says patients will be provided information about the risks of opioids. 

"For this age group, teenagers and young adults, they're more susceptible to the addictive effects of opioids because their brains are still maturing," he explains. "And that's also the age group where there's higher risk of misuse or abuse of opioid drugs."

Wong encourages all dental patients to take charge of their health by speaking in-depth with their dental provider about the safest treatment options for pain.

"And then be safe," he urges. "If you are prescribed an opioid, handle them appropriately, keep them out of the hands of kids, keep them locked up when not in use and dispose of any unused pills appropriately."

About half of opioid pain pills prescribed for dental pain go unused. In Indiana, there were nearly 800 opioid-related overdose deaths in 2016.

More from Local News


Events

  • Lawrenceburg Primary School Kindergarten Round Up

    Calling all future Kindergarteners for the 2019-2020 School Year! Please share this important date with families that may not have school age children in the corporation. When? Thursday, April 18, 2019 Where? Lawrenceburg Primary School Time? 8:00 a.m.-7:00 p.m. ITEMS YOU MUST BRING • Your child will be tested during registration • Child must be present (must be age 5 on or before August 1, 2019) • Birth Certificate (not the hospital birth record) • Social Security Card (must have this for online registration) • Immunization Records • Court or Custody Documents (pertaining to the child) • Proof of Residency (electric bill, lease agreement, etc.) Appointments are required! You will receive further instructions on the website when the appointment port opens! Please check back! www.lburg.k12.in.us

    at Lawrenceburg Primary School
  • Osgood Public Library Friends' Book Sale

    Shop for book bargains at the Osgood Public Library every day, except Sundays, from April 12th-20th.

    at Osgood Public Library
  • First Church of God Easter Revival

    We will be having our Easter Revival starting on April 19th-21st.

    at First Church of God

Missing Cross Plains Resident Has Not Been Seen Since April 11

The Ripley County Sheriff's Office says there is a missing person investigation of Charles James Morris.

"Terrible" Payday Lender Bill Dies In Indiana House

The legislation proposed letting Indiana payday lenders offer more loans at even higher interest rates.

Sports Betting, Casino Gaming Bill Passes Indiana House

A bill with local casino implications is now going to be finalized by a conference committee.

Local Sports Report - April 17

South Dearborn baseball's Reese Willoughby and Jace Leonard shut out Greensburg Wednesday.

Rising Sun's Bush, Switz Co.'s Sparks Earn ORVC Weekly Honors

Other top performers for the week of April 8-13 are listed here.

Local Sports Report - April 16

Milan's Erin Widener hit a home run and pitched a complete game as the Indians softball team won Tuesday.

On Air

Bubba Bo playing
Lady Antebellum - Compass

Vince Gill Heart Won't Lie 9:07
Jake Owen The One That Got Away 9:04
Randy Houser What Whiskey Does 9:00
Tim Mcgraw My Little Girl 8:56