Surgery to remove wisdom teeth puts some teens and young adults on a path to opioid abuse

For older teens and young adults, the extraction of so-called wisdom teeth is a painful rite of passage. A new study suggests it’s likely made more perilous by the package of narcotic pain pills that patients frequently carry home after undergoing the common surgical procedure.

The study offers fresh evidence of how readily — and innocently — a potentially fatal addiction to opioids can take hold. It also underscores how important it is that dentists rethink their approach to treating their patients’ postoperative discomfort.

In a group of close to 15,000 people whose first-ever prescription for opioid painkillers came from a dentist or dental surgeon, researchers found that about 7% filled another opioid prescription 90 to 365 days later.
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