Opiate Free Dental Pain Option?

Published: Feb. 6, 2019 at 2:10 PM EST
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William Marotta was in early recovery for drug and alcohol abuse. "I strung together 8 or 9 months and was doing real well until I had to get my wisdom teeth removed," says Marotta. "They put me on Vicodin first, it didn't work, I was still in a lot of pain, then the doctor upped the prescription to Percocet and from there it was really over. I'd relapsed and spent the next two and a half years out there. That was like the jumping off point for me, where it got really bad and really ugly."

Oral surgery and dental procedures often include opiate pain medication. They can be extremely painful and require a narcotic level of pain relief. However the thought on that is changing within the dental community. The Toledo Dental Society for example has issued an alternative pain management plan for most dental procedures that alternates Advil and Tylenol every three hours. Toledo oral surgeon Dr. Steve Shall says "I was working under the assumption that one prescription would not cause anybody to be an addict." Shall says that changed for him when a study came out showing up to 5% of patients will seek substance abuse treatment after just one opiate prescription.

Now there is a an alternative medication that numbs an area after oral surgery for up to four days. It is a time released injection called Exparel. "The beauty of this is if you're having a lot of pain and you can't quite catch it with the Tylenol and Advil combination, this gets you over the hump," says Shall. The challenge is that most insurance companies won't cover the $170 cost.