Home Orthodontics Opioid Addiction Is Hurting Children: Do Your Procedures Promote This Epidemic?

Opioid Addiction Is Hurting Children: Do Your Procedures Promote This Epidemic?

by adminjay

Did you see the recent study published by JAMA Psychiatry in May? The results are pretty eye-opening.

It found that:

“In this cross-sectional study from 2011 to 2021, an estimated 321,566 community-dwelling children in the US lost a parent aged 18 to 64 years to drug overdose, and the rate of children who lost a parent to overdose increased during this period. In 2021, the highest rate was found among non-Hispanic American Indian and Alaska Native individuals.”

In addition:

“The findings indicate that responses to the overdose crisis should account for the full burden of overdose on families and children, including addressing the economic, social, educational, and health care needs of children who have lost parents to overdose.”

The opioid epidemic is out of control.

We often see and hear all of the horror stories on the news about adults addicted to drugs, but we often forget about the children involved. It’s bad enough to grow up in a household filled with addiction, but the loss of a parent or parents can be devastating to a child.

As a father, this latest opioid study really hit home. It reinforced my passion to get the word out about this issue. After all, opioid addiction affects thousands of children each year… and there is something we can do about it.

Several years ago, I realized that I was contributing to the opioid epidemic. After all, it was standard practice to use opioids in wisdom teeth removal procedures. This is what we were taught in school. However, things have changed, and new data shows that we need to break from the status quo.

Specifically, Stanford University found that:

“Teenagers and young adults who receive initial opioid prescriptions from their dentists or oral surgeons are at increased risk for opioid addiction in the following year.”

We were trying to provide the best level of care possible over the decades. Now, with my new knowledge about opioids, I cringe when I think of all of the patients who may have started an addiction from having their wisdom teeth extracted… by me.

This is why I developed TheWisdomToothDoc Technique in 2017.

After conducting extensive research, I found that NSAIDs are superior to opioids. From this data, I developed a wisdom tooth removal process that does not involve opioids. I even tested it on my own daughter! You can read more specifics about this procedure in my previous article here.

Thousands of extractions later using my technique, I’ve proven that there is no reason to use opioids in wisdom teeth extractions. In fact, patients actually experience less pain, swelling, and stress. Best of all, they recover faster. Now, I’m trying to spread the word.

Congress is finally taking notice of the epidemic and signed The NOPAIN Act, formally known as the “Non-Opioids Prevent Addiction in the Nation Act,” into law on December 28, 2022.

It focuses on promoting alternative pain management methods and reducing the reliance on opioid medications. The law emphasizes educating and training healthcare professionals on strategies that do not involve opioids, providing more access to non-opioid choices nationwide and insurance coverage to make non-opioid choices affordable, and acknowledging the need for a collaborative and multidisciplinary approach to pain management.

The NOPAIN Act is an important step forward to help reduce the devastating impact of the opioid epidemic. In fact, we partnered with Voices for Non-Opioid Choices, an advocacy group that lobbied for this legislation. I encourage others to support their efforts as they potentially start a similar campaign aimed at dental coverage.

As medical professionals, it’s up to us to provide the best care possible. Part of this is ensuring that our patients do not become addicted to opioids, specifically because of the treatments we provide! Also, realize that the latest study findings indicate it’s not just about the patients. It’s about the effect it has on their children… too many are losing their parents to addiction.

It’s time to act and do something about this epidemic.

Just by making a few changes in your practice, you can provide better care and help reduce the opioid epidemic. If you’d like more information about reducing opioid use in your office and TheWisdomToothDoc Technique, please contact me for more information.

Challenge the status quo and see how you can make a difference. I’m just a single voice, but by joining forces, we can reduce the opioid epidemic in America and help thousands of children nationwide.


Dr. James Babiuk, also known as TheWisdomToothDoc, is the founder of The Centre for Oral Surgery in Joliet, Illinois, https://wisdomteethjoliet.com, an international speaker, and the author of “What Every Parent of an Adolescent Needs to Know About Opioids.”

A graduate of Northwestern University, Dr. Babiuk taught oral surgery and outpatient anesthesia to residents in training at Cook County/Stroger Hospital in Chicago and has been in practice for over 25 years with 29-plus years of anesthesia experience and well over 234,737 teeth extractions.

He is known for holistic oral surgery, focusing on all aspects of the patient and going above and beyond to exceed their unique needs.


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