Researchers called for a reduction in opioid use within dentistry after a study finds they do not help to alleviate pain after tooth extractions.
Data collected by the University of Michigan found there was little difference between the pain and satisfaction of patients who were prescribed opioids and those who were not.
Assessing 325 dental patients, roughly half who had surgical extraction and 39% who had routine extraction were given opioids.
Study co-author and clinical professor at the university, Romesh Nalliah, said the study offered important conclusions.
He said: ‘I think the most important finding is that patient satisfaction with pain management was no different between the opioid group and non-opioid group.
‘It didn’t make a difference whether it was surgical or routine extraction.’
It was also found that patients in the opioid group reported worse pain when compared to the non-opioid group.
This was the case for both types of extractions.
Additionally, around half of the opioids prescribed in the study were left unused.
As a result, researchers are calling for opioid use in dentistry to be significantly reduced – or eliminated completely.
Study co-author Chad Brummett also co-directs the Michigan Opioid Prescribing Engagement Network (Michigan OPEN).
This develops, tests and gives guidance regarding opioid use in patients.
He said: ‘These data support the Michigan OPEN prescribing recommendations. These call for no opioids for the majority of patients after dental extractions, including wisdom teeth extraction.’
Mr Nalliah added: ‘I think we can almost eliminate opioid prescribing from dental practice.
‘Of course, there are going to be some exceptions, like patients who can’t tolerate nonsteroidal anti-inflammatories.
‘I would estimate we can reduce opioid prescribing to about 10% of what we currently prescribe as a profession.’
Around 0.6% of dental prescriptions in the UK were for opioids – compared to a 22% in the US.
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