Trends in National Opioid Prescribing for Dental Procedures among Patients Enrolled in Medicaid

Published 08/02/2021

A study published in The Journal of the American Dental Association found that opioid prescription rates in dentistry for people enrolled in Medicaid declined substantially from 2012 through 2019 for both children and adults. More specifically, the results showed:

  • Consistent decreases in opioid prescription rates from 2.7% to 1.6% among children (aged 0-20 years) and from 28.6% to 12.2% for adults (aged 21-64 years).
  • A decrease in adult opioid prescription rate for nonsurgical dental procedures from 9.7% to 2.9%.
  • A decrease in adult opioid prescription rate for surgical procedures from 48.0% to 28.7%.

Although the trends revealed declining opioid prescription patterns, the analysis suggests that the overall rate is still too high, and prescriptions are being written unnecessarily when an alternative treatment would be more effective in managing pain and reducing the incidence of opioid use disorder.

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