Unwise opioids for wisdom teeth: Study shows link to long-term use in teens, young adults

Dental panoramic x-ray. In orange,the wisdom teeth.

Getting wisdom teeth removed may be a rite of passage for many teens and young adults, but the opioid painkiller prescriptions that many of them receive could set them on a path to long-term opioid use, a new University of Michigan study finds.

Young people ages 13 to 30 who filled an opioid prescription immediately before or after they had their wisdom teeth out were nearly 2.7 times as likely as their peers to still be filling opioid prescriptions weeks or months later, according to the U-M research.

Those in their late teens and 20s had the highest odds of persistent opioid use, compared with those of middle school and high school age, the researchers report in a research letter in the new issue of JAMA.

Led by Calista Harbaugh, a U-M research fellow and surgical resident, the study used insurance data to focus on young people who were ‘opioid naïve’—who hadn’t had an opioid prescription in the six months before their wisdom teeth came out, and who didn’t have any other procedures requiring anesthesia in the following year.

For the rest of the article go here.