By Dr. Mallika Marshall

BOSTON (CBS) – A new study in JAMA finds that painkillers prescribed to teens and young adults by dentists may be associated with the abuse of these medications later on.

Many people ages 16 to 21 have their wisdom teeth removed and sometimes dentists or oral surgeons send patients home with a prescription for opioids, like Vicodin or Tylenol with codeine. It is often the first time a young person has ever been exposed to opioids.

Researchers at Stanford looked at tens of thousands of young people who received these painkillers for the first time from their dentists and found that almost 6 percent of them were later diagnosed with opioid abuse.

The researchers say more research needs to be done to determine if the removal of wisdom teeth is really necessary, in the first place, and whether opioid prescriptions are really necessary for this relatively minor procedure.

Dr. Mallika Marshall

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