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STATE WIDE–If you’re getting wisdom teeth removed or having some other dental surgery, you could be in danger of opioid abuse. That’s because two thirds of people who go in for a dental procedure will be prescribed an opioid for the pain.

In Indiana thousands of people have died to opioid overdoses and addictions. The state and federal government have spent billions of dollars trying to stop the opioid crisis.

Dr. Ted Wong, Chief Dental Officer with United Health Care, said dental procedures is where Hoosier teenagers could end up getting addicted.

“That’s the age group where you’re more susceptible to addictive effects of opioids because your brain is still maturing, and you’re probably gonna be more at risk of misuse or abuse,” said Wong. 

He said while there will be times when an opioid prescription is necessary, alternatives can often be just as effective.

“If someone’s gonna have dental treatment and they end up with an opioid prescription, they need to have a good conversation with their dentist and don’t be afraid to ask questions.”


Another danger, aside from abuse, is the leftover meds that may be left in the medicine cabinet. Wong said you should get rid of all the meds you don’t use so they don’t end up taken by people who would abuse them.

He said you can return them to the pharmacy or take advantage of the twice a year drug takebacks by the DEA.

“The pharmacy can provide disposal bags specific to opioids, where they inactivate the ingredients in an opioid,” he said. Or you can do that yourself by disposing of them with coffee grounds or kitty litter. He said the most important rule is don’t just throw them in the trash.

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