JDR Clinical & Translational Research
The prescription of opioid analgesics by dental professionals is widespread in the United States. Policy makers, government agencies, and professional organizations consider this phenomenon a growing public health concern. This study examined trends in the prescription of opioid analgesics for adults by dental professionals and associated factors in the United States. Data from the Medical Expenditure Panel Survey (1996-2013) were analyzed. Descriptive statistics were calculated separately for each year. Logistic regression analyses were conducted to estimate the overall trend during the period with and without adjusting for dental procedures and personal characteristics. Survey weights were incorporated to handle the sampling design. The prescription of opioid analgesics following dental care increased over time. After adjusting for sociodemographic factors, source of payment, and type of dental procedure, the odds ratio (OR) of prescribing opioid analgesics following a dental visit per each decade difference was 1.28 (95% confidence interval [CI], 1.19–1.38). Surgical, root canal, and implant procedures had the highest rates of opioid prescriptions and the greatest increases in rates over the study period. After adjusting for personal characteristics and type of dental procedure, the OR of receiving a prescription for opioids comparing blacks, Asians, and Hispanics to whites was 1.29 (95% CI, 1.17–1.41), 0.57 (95% CI, 0.47–0.70), and 0.84 (95% CI, 0.75–0.95), respectively. Opioid analgesic prescriptions following dental visits increased over time after adjusting for personal characteristics and type of dental procedure. The odds of receiving a prescription for opioids were higher for certain racial/ethnic minority groups.
Knowledge Transfer Statement: This study highlights dental professionals prescribing practices of opioid analgesics by following dental treatments in the United States. With this knowledge, appropriate guidelines, protocols, and policies can be developed and implemented to address any inappropriate prescribing practices of opioid analgesics. In addition, this information could lead to an improvement in the prescribing practices of dental professionals and to evidence-based therapeutic decision making.