Posted 10/14/2019 in News

Rutgers Studies OTC Medications as Opioid Alternatives


Rutgers Studies OTC Medications as Opioid Alternatives

If you've had your wisdom teeth removed, what did the surgeon give you for your post-procedure pain? Most likely, you left the office with a prescription for an opioid. Your doctor probably scribbled down something like codeine, hydrocodone, or oxycodone.

An Addictive Problem

Somehow, highly addictive opioids became the gold standard for dental surgery aftercare. Undoubtedly, these drugs do the job. They target pain and relieve it. Still, experts have found that the one prescription after a wisdom tooth extraction could be the gateway to a full-blown addiction.

No one is suggesting patients should suffer after an extraction. Entire teeth were just pulled right out of a jaw, after all. Rather, researchers are now considering if we can take it down a notch.

What if after a wisdom tooth extraction, a patient only took OTC medications, such as ibuprofen and acetaminophen? The great minds at Rutgers plan to find out.

Finding a Better Solution

Last month, the Rutgers School of Dental Medicine won an $11.7 million grant from the National Institute of Health. The six-year study will include 1,800 dental school patients. The study involves prescribing half of the patients with Vicodin, a strong opioid. The other half of patients will be instructed to use a combination of ibuprofen and acetaminophen.

Participants in the study will keep a seven-day log of their doses, pain levels, and side effects. The research will also keep track of those patients prescribed the Vicodin to see if they further abuse opioids.

The study's lead investigator is Dean Cecile A. Feldman. About the study, he said, “The pain isn't the only thing you need to take into consideration.” He mentions that patients will often choose temporary recovery discomfort over unpleasant side effects. Opioid side effects include nausea and confusion.

Other dental schools will also participate in this study, including the University of Illinois, the University of Maryland, the University of Michigan and the University of Rochester. The study should conclude in 2025.


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