HealthDay News — Adult dental patients are frequently overprescribed opioids, with about half of prescribed opioids exceeding the recommended three-day supply, according to a study published in the American Journal of Preventive Medicine.

Katie J. Suda, PharmD, from the VA Pittsburgh Healthcare System, and colleagues conducted a cross-sectional analysis of a population-based sample of 542,958 U.S. commercial dental patient visits between 2011 and 2015. Prescription opioids were ascertained using pharmacy claims data, and appropriate prescribing was determined from the 2016 U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guidelines for pain management.

The researchers found that 29 percent of prescribed opioids exceeded the recommended morphine equivalent for appropriate acute pain management. Fifty-three percent of prescribed opioids exceeded the recommended three-day supply. Those most likely to have opioids prescribed inappropriately were patients aged 18 to 34 years, men, patients residing in the Southern United States, and those receiving oxycodone. During the study period, there was an increase noted in the proportion of opioids that exceeded the recommended morphine equivalents, whereas there was no change in opioids exceeding the recommended three-day supply.

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“Up to half of opioids received at the time of dental visits are inconsistent with guidelines on the appropriate use of opioids for acute pain,” the authors write. “Evidence-based interventions tailored to dentists and oral pain are urgently needed to curtail excessive opioid prescribing by U.S. dentists.”

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