Study reveals dental opioid prescriptions may increase risk of opioid use, abuse

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A new study in JAMA Internal Medicine concluded that in opioid-naïve 16- to 25-year-olds who received an opioid prescription from a dentist, there was a 6.8 percent greater risk of persistent opioid use and a 5.3 percent greater risk of subsequent diagnosis of opioid use disorder compared to age- and sex-matched controls who did not receive an opioid prescription.1 Read the study, "Association of Opioid Prescriptions From Dental Clinicians for U.S. Adolescents and Youth Adults with Subsequent Opioid Use and Abuse," here.
The study goes on to suggest that a “substantial proportion of adolescents and young adults are exposed to opioids through dental clinicians”.1 This supports the findings from articles published in the Journal of the American Dental Association earlier in 2018, that found dental opioid prescriptions for 11- to 18-year-olds increased from 99.7 per 1000 dental patients in 2010 to 165.9 per 1000 dental patients in 2015,2 and that dental clinicians are responsible for nearly one quarter of the first opioid prescriptions for the same age group.3
These articles highlight the importance of staying up-to-date on best practices for pain management, opioid prescribing, drug diversion, and chemical dependency issues.
Additional Learning:
  • Listen to the two-part webinar series presented by Dentist’s Advantage and CNA on managing risks associated with dental patients and opioids here.
  • Read the Academy of General Dentistry’s whitepaper, "The Role of Dentistry in Addressing Opioid Abuse," on the role of dentistry in opioid abuse here.
  1. Schroeder AR, Dehghan M, Newman TB, Bentley JP, Park KT. Association of Opioid Prescriptions From Dental Clinicians for US Adolescents and Young Adults With Subsequent Opioid Use and Abuse. JAMA Intern Med. Published online December 03, 2018. doi:10.1001/jamainternmed.2018.5419
  2. Gupta N, Vujicic M, Blatz A. Opioid prescribing practices from 2010 through 2015 among dentists in the United States: What do claims data tell us? J AmDent Assoc. 2018;149(4):237-245.e6. doi:10.1016/j.adaj.2018.01.005
  3. Gupta N, Vujicic M, Blatz A. Multiple opioid prescriptions among privately insured dental patients in the United States: evidence from claims data. J AmDent Assoc. 2018;149(7):619-627 e1. Medline: 29656805 doi:10.1016/j.adaj.2018.02.025