Dental opioid prescriptions tied to risk for abuse in older teens, young adults

  • JAMA Intern Med

  • curated by Kelli Whitlock Burton
  • Clinical Essentials
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Takeaway

  • Persistent opioid use, opioid-abuse diagnoses, and overdoses are significantly more common among adolescents and young adults who received opioids through a dental clinician than among those who did not.

Why this matters

  • Nearly one-third (30.6%) of older teens and young adults who received an opioid prescription in the last year received the prescription from a dental clinician.
  • Although this study does not identify the reason for dental visits resulting in opioid prescriptions, it is likely that wisdom teeth extractions are the primary cause.

Study design

  • Retrospective study evaluated 754,002 outpatients (approximate age, 16-25 years in 2015; with continuous enrollment) from the Optum Research Database in 2015.
  • Dental opioid-exposed cohort comprising 14,888 individuals; 29,776 randomly selected individuals formed opioid nonexposed control cohort.
  • Funding: None disclosed.

Key results

  • 6.9% vs 0.1% individuals in the dental opioid-exposed vs the nonexposed cohort received another opioid prescription 90-365 days later (adjusted absolute risk difference [aaRD], 6.8%; P<.001>
  • 27.0% patients received a second opioid prescription from a dental clinician.
  • 5.8% vs 0.4% patients in the opioid-exposed cohort vs the nonexposed cohort (aaRD, 5.3%; P<.001 encountered subsequent healthcare encounter an opioid abuse-related diagnosis within days.>

Limitations

  • Database includes privately insured patients only.

Coauthored with Antara Ghosh, PhD

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