Roughly 5 million Americans have their wisdom teeth removed annually. After these extractions most patients are prescribed opioids to help ease the pain. Studies have shown that young adults are more likely to refill these prescriptions after pain should have subsided from the extractions. If patients filled the first prescription they were more likely to get multiple refills later when compared to patients who did not fill the first prescription. Hydrocodone was the highest prescribed opioid with oxycodone as a close second.
Some dentists feel as though prescribing opioids after wisdom tooth extraction is excessive and unnecessary. Instead they think prescribing NSAIDs such as ibuprofen are just as effective if not better at relieving pain. Other ways to relieve extraction pain are using an ice pack in the affected area or rinsing with warm salt water for several minutes. The ice pack helps numb the area thus reducing pain, and warm salt water aids in reducing bacteria in the mouth which can cause pain.