Unwise Opioids for Wisdom Teeth: Study Shows Link to Long-Term Use in Teens, Young Adults

Young people who used opioids for pain relief when they had their wisdom teeth extracted were nearly three times as likely to become dependent on the drugs long-term, according to a study done at the University of Michigan. Specifically, of young people ages 13 to 30, those in their late teens and early 20s had the highest odds of continuing opioid use. A history of depression, anxiety and chronic pain also factored in. Study authors suggested that dentists and oral surgeons consider other pain relief options for their patients, before resorting to opioids.

Every day we hear about a new wave of deaths that opioids are causing, many from accidental overdoses. The names are different, but the story is always the same: Desperate for pain relief, be it from chronic back pain, migraines or simple tooth extractions, patients beg their doctors for anything that will lessen that pain. And doctors, desperate to help patients, write out a prescription for opioids, without even exploring nondrug options for pain relief.

For example, studies involving curcumin, the primary therapeutic compound in the spice turmeric, have shown that only 200 milligrams a day reduced pain for osteoarthritis patients. In all, over 50 clinical studies show curcumin to have potent anti-inflammatory activity, and as such may have over 150 therapeutic properties that help with blocking inflammatory pathways that trigger swelling and pain.

Likewise, boswellia — one of my personal favorites — has been prized for thousands of years for its powerful anti-inflammatory properties, and which many rheumatoid arthritis patients swear by. Bromelain, a protein-digesting enzyme in pineapple, is another anti-inflammatory.

You can also implement dietary changes by eating fish with omega-3 fats in them, such as wild-caught Alaskan salmon, or taking a high-quality, animal-based omega-3 supplement. Just as important is to reduce, with the goal of eliminating, all processed foods from your diet, which usually contain grains and added sugars which contribute to inflammation, as well as offer little in the way of natural nutrition.

Interestingly, chiropractic adjustments and/or acupuncture have been shown to sometimes work better than any medication. If you have chronic back pain, I have a list of 15 natural remedies that can help, which includes various types of exercise to stretch and strengthen your muscles, which ultimately offer good pain relief.
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