dentist talking to patient about prescription medications

Use Caution When Taking Prescription Medications

Use caution when taking prescription medications

Prescription medications can be a safe and effective way to relieve pain after dental procedures. But using these drugs for any other purpose is dangerous, illegal and in some cases, can even be fatal. Every day, more than 40 people in the United States die from an overdose of prescription painkillers, according to the U.S. Health and Human Services. Many of those deaths can be traced back to opioid abuse.

What are opioids? Opioids are narcotic pain relievers such as hydrocodone—commonly known as the brand name Vicodin, oxycodone, brand names OxyContin or Percocet, morphine, and codeine that require a prescription from a medical professional. When they are prescribed for you and taken properly, they are considered a safe and effective pain management tool.

In October 2015, the White House issued a statement addressing prescription opioid pain medication misuse and that called for improved access to medication-assisted treatment as well as increased provider training.

Here are some questions to ask your dentist if you are prescribed an opioid following a dental procedure:

  • What is the goal of this prescription?
  • When and how should I take these?
  • How long should I take these drugs?
  • Are there any risks for me from this medication?
  • What do I do with any extra medication?

One thing to consider is other pain relievers. Over-the-counter medicines, like ibuprofen and acetaminophen, can be effective for pain relief following dental procedures. To help your dentist decide what course of action is right for you, make sure you update your health history form, talk to your dentist about medications you are currently taking and ask plenty of questions. Feel free to include your primary medical doctor in the conversation. If you are in recovery or struggled with addiction in the past, tell your dentist. Let your dentist know if anyone in your family has struggled with addiction.

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This article is intended to promote understanding of and knowledge about general oral health topics. It is not intended to be a substitute for professional advice, diagnosis or treatment. Always seek the advice of your dentist or other qualified healthcare provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition or treatment.

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