Does Opioid Addiction Have Roots with Dentists?
The dentist is not everybody’s favorite person to visit. It comes with a measure of discomfort about what to expect going in, even if just for a cleaning. Some people who go in never expect to become addicted to prescription painkillers to help ease discomfort from surgery on their teeth or gums. When a person has a tooth removed or work done, opioid prescriptions are commonly prescribed. They are highly addictive and some people find themselves struggling to quit using them after a trip to the dentist.
Myth of Healing
Opioid drugs are seen as a panacea for what ails people in many situations. When pain is involved, it seems opioid drugs enter the picture. This is a myth that opioids are more effective than OTC pain relievers. For short-term pain relief, some non-opioid alternatives may be just as good as an opioid, even better in some cases. The risks of taking opioids for even brief moments can impact people for the rest of their life. Overprescribing by dentists is also a challenge for those trying to help people manage pain more post-operatively. The guidelines call for dentists to prescribe drugs only as a last resort with an ADA opioid policy written to protect people from addiction for this reason.
How it Happens
People can become hooked on the drugs because opioids block nerve cells to help regulate mood. Dopamine hits the brain’s reward pathways which bring euphoria and lessen sensations of fear or stress. The brain tries to adapt by shutting down the reward circuits so people feel less joy, more anxiety, and increased depression. Cravings kick up and the person’s life quickly involves needing more of the drug to have the same effect. Once tolerance starts, addiction is not far behind. Young people are at increased risk for addiction because they are more likely to visit the dentist for wisdom teeth issues and removal. Their brains may be more susceptible to addiction from opioids than adults, leaving them vulnerable to its effects.
Prescribing Less Drugs
Dentists are working on ways to prescribe less potent drugs for people needing oral surgery in their office. Less than ten percent of people who need surgery receive opioids due to the ongoing crisis. Younger people are still at risk as they are most likely to get wisdom teeth removed, a quite painful surgery. The main thing is to get educated around the ins and outs of opioids and over-the-counter medications to know what will work best and be your own advocate. If you have a loved one who is young and facing surgery, be sure to speak to the provider ahead of time so see what they recommend for pain relief. There is the chance that over-the-counter medication will not be as effective for some people. In this instance, a lower dose in combination with this medicine may actually be more effective and, realistically, become a better means of dealing with the issue of how to prescribe medication for people needing pain relief following surgery without the risk and complications of opioids.
Palmetto is a place of healing and hope. If you are struggling against addiction and need a place to rest, we will support your journey to recovery with our proven programs and methods. Our program provides special focus for professionals including chiropractors, nurses, doctors, lawyers, and more who need help with addiction recovery. Call us to find out more: 866-848-3001.