Insurers Crack Down on Dental Opioid Prescriptions

A recent study revealed that for many teens, opioid abuse begins with wisdom tooth extractions. The unnecessary prescriptions can lead to lifelong addiction, progressing to other opioid usages including heroin addiction. And now, insurers are discouraging opioid use for dental extractions, asking doctors to rely on Tylenol instead. The study, published in JAMA Internal Medicine last December, found that youths age 16 to 25 who first used opioids after dental care were more than ten times more likely than their peers to be diagnosed with opioid abuse. Startlingly, opioid use disorder often emerges within just a year of getting their first prescription. The Kansas City Star spoke with United Healthcare’s chief dental officer Ted Wong, who said that the relationship between dental prescriptions and opioid abuse makes sense. He explained that adolescents are more sensitive to drugs like opioids because their brains are developing. Opioid prescriptions for wisdom tooth procedures are common for young people, and nearly 5 million people have their wisdom teeth removed every year. “That gave…

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