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Dental Evidence – One Pager


6.9¹% of teens and young adults who received dental opioids went on to become new persistent users.

5.8¹% of teens and young adults who received dental opioids went on to have health encounters for an opioid abuse related diagnosis

Filling an opioid after wisdom teeth removal resulted in nearly 3²x the risk for becoming a new persistent user.


54³% of opioids prescribed for outpatient dental procedures go unused.

69% of misused opioids come from friends or relatives. (reference 4)

Most adolescents believe that prescription opioids are safer than other substances of abuse (reference 5).


Ibuprofen and Acetaminophen combined are more effective at dental pain control and carry less risk. (reference 6)

Dental patients who used opioids reported higher levels of pain than those who did not use opioids. (reference 7)

Satisfaction scores of dental patients did not change between opioid users and nonusers. (reference 7)


  1. Schroeder AR, Dehghan M, Newman TB, et al. Association of opioid prescriptions from dental clinicians for US adolescents and young adults with subsequent opioid use and abuse. JAMA internal medicine. 2019;179(2):145-52. 
  2. Harbaugh CM, Nalliah RP, Hu HM, Englesbe MJ, Waljee JF, Brummett CM. Persistent opioid use after wisdom tooth extraction. JAMA. 2019;320(5):504-6. 
  3. Maughn BC, Hersh EV, Shafer FS, Unused opioid analgesics and drug disposal following outpatient dental surgery: a randomized controlled trial. Drug and alcohol dependence. 2016;168:328-34. 
  4. Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, 2014. Results from the 2013 National Survey on Drug Use and Health: Summary of National (accessed on 5.11.14). 
  5. Johnston LD, O’Malley PM, Miech RA, Bachman JG, Schulenberg JE. Monitoring the Future National Survey Results on Drug Use, 1975–2015. Ann Arbor, MI: The University of Michigan; 2016
  6. Moore PA, Ziegler KM, Lipman RD, Benefits and harm associated with analgesic medications used in the management of acute dental pain: an overview of systematic reviews. J. Am. Dent. Assoc. 2018; 149(4):256-65. 
  7. Nalliah RP, Sloss KR, Kenney BC, et al. Association of Opioid Use With Pain and Satisfaction After Dental Extraction. JAMA Network Open. 2020;3(3):e200901. doi:10.1001/jamanetworkopen.2020.0901