Wisdom Teeth Removal Without Opioids - Dr. James Babiuk
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Opioid Addiction Numbers That Kill In Dentistry 

Here are a few numbers for you… 3%, 80%, 80% 1000, 21,70%, 100,000, 100,100. What do all of these numbers mean? You’re probably thinking, “I’m a dentist. I only need to know how to count to 32,” so why are these numbers important? When it comes to opioid addiction and its relations to dentistry, they’re important… 

    • 3% of patients who are prescribed an opioid will develop an addiction after their very first exposure to one of these medications.

    • 80% of oral surgery practices produce 80% of their revenue from wisdom tooth extractions.

    • If a surgeon is doing four cases of wisdom teeth per workday, they’re doing 1000 cases per year.

    • The patients who we are doing our procedures on are typically teenagers, high school age kids. Their brains are still developing at this age and will continue to do so until they are 21.

    • Research shows that addiction is more likely to occur if the first exposure to an opioid happens before brain development has completed.

    • 70% of Americans who have taken a prescription opioid had their very first exposure with their wisdom tooth extractions. So, when I look back at my career of approximately 25 years of practice, this means there is a realistic potential that there are 750 people regularly using or potentially addicted to these medications where I gave the first dose.

    • The most recent statistics, 2021, tell us that approximately 100,000 Americans die from an opioid overdose every single year. In the county where one of my practices is located, Will County, Illinois, they have about 100 every year. My other practice is in LaSalle County where they also experience 100 opioid overdose deaths every year.


The thing that always puzzles me is that the Will County Health Department has a press conference near the end of every year where they talk about their efforts in the opioid epidemic. They’re always proud that they only have about 100 deaths per year, but I find this kind of perverse. How can you be proud of 100 deaths? Shouldn’t you be proud only if you have zero deaths?

This is a small excerpt from my recent article in Dentistry Today available here. To learn more and schedule your wisdom teeth removal consultation, contact us here.