Your Healthy Family: When is it appropriate for your dentist to prescribe painkillers?

10:21 AM, May 16, 2018

As the fight continues in the opioid crisis in our country every doctor who prescribes for pain, including dentists has a role to play.

Colorado Springs dentist, Dr. Fred Guerra says, “In our business there are very few non-surgical dental procedures that would require a narcotic.”

Dr. Guerra says many dental procedures will cause some short term discomfort, generally 2-3 days.  The best pain reliever for most pain or discomfort following work on your teeth is a combination of over the counter pain medications.

Dr. Guerra says, “The American Dental Association is on board and has come out with some guidelines based on evidence based studies, that combining Tylenol and Ibuprofen at the right dosages is more effective for pain relief than an opioid.”

That doesn’t mean that it’s never appropriate for your dentist to write you a prescription for a painkiller.  “There are some surgical procedures, maybe some complex implant surgery or complex oral surgery extractions of wisdom teeth when it would be prudent to give maybe 8 to 12 to 16 tablets of an opioid certainly.  If it’s for your teenage daughter or son they should be given to the parent for them to dispense.”

Dentists are helping in the fight against opioid abuse by educating their patients about what is appropriate when they do ask for a prescription painkiller.

Dr. Guerra adds, “The goal has been to educate and to help patients understand that they don’t need an opioid.  We also counsel parents if their children are having these kind of procedures (that require an opioid) that we want to really monitor it closely.  I think a lot of the problem with opioids is that a prescription is brought home and it’s left in the medicine cabinet and then it falls into the wrong hands.”

If you have any questions make sure to follow up with your dentist.

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