Surgical procedures, including third molar extractions are common procedures in which opioid-naïve patients, especially adolescents, are first exposed to opioids.
While dentists and oral surgeons strive to compassionately manage patients’ pain, they must do so responsibly to curtail long-term use and misuse, as well as minimize potential diversion from large amounts of leftover prescription opioids. This is especially important among adolescents who are at heightened risk of future opioid misuse.
Many oral and maxillofacial surgery training programs are revising their acute postoperative prescribing protocols to decrease the number of opioids prescribed and promote use of non-opioid alternatives for pain management. Education for providers is essential to changing pain management protocols and mitigating risk of opioid misuse. Education, coupled with open communication with patients to set appropriate expectations and treatment goals, presents an opportunity to optimize clinical outcomes and improve patient satisfaction.
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