Think about pain management before doing dental work, says UnitedHealthcare dentist

It’s important to think about pain management before you have dental work done.

“Twelve percent of all opioid prescriptions are written by dentists,” said UnitedHealthcare Chief Dental Officer, Dr. Ted Wong. “More importantly, for teens and young adults, we’re showing that dentists write about 45 percent of opioid prescriptions, drugs like Vicodin, Percocet and Codeine.”

Those who have their wisdom teeth removed are the most likely to have that type of prescription.

“About 5 million people each year have their wisdom teeth removed,” said Wong. “Approximately two-thirds of those will receive at least one opioid prescription.”

It’s important to communicate your wishes before you get the work done.

“Don’t be afraid to ask questions and have a serious discussion with your dentist if you or a loved one are going to go in for a dental treatment that may result in an opioid prescription,” said Wong. “The first thing you want to ask is, do you really need an opioid? Is there an alternative pain management option? In many cases, over the counter medication, pain medications, can be equally effective. If you do need an opioid, I would recommend that you ask about limiting the supply and daily dosage. We like to say, go low and go slow. The CDC recommends capping opioid prescriptions at 3 days.”

That’s usually long enough to ramp down the pain relief to a point where regular OTC medicines can take over.