Americans who have a tooth pulled or another painful dental procedure in the United States today are far less likely to get opioid painkillers than they were just a few years ago, a new study shows.

That’s good news, since research shows that opioids are not necessary for most dental procedures.

But the COVID-19 pandemic seems to have thrown a wrench into the effort to reduce opioid use in dental care – and not just in the few months after dentists and oral surgeons started providing routine care again after a pause in spring 2020.

The decline in opioid prescriptions filled by dental patients was much faster in the pre-pandemic years 2016 through 2019, compared with the rate of decline from June 2020 to December 2022, the study shows.

Read the full release written by Kara Gavin