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Prescription Opioid Abuse and its Potential Role in Gross Dental Decay

[ Vol. 12 , Issue. 1 ]


Andrew D. Fraser, Boshi Zhang, Hassan Khan, Henry Ma and Elliot V. Hersh   Pages 22 - 26 ( 5 )


Introduction: Prescription opioid abuse may have adverse dental effects that are irreversible, leaving younger populations with substantially decayed dentitions. This article explores the damaging effects of three years of prescription opioid abuse to a twenty-six-year-old’s dentition and oral health.

Case Presentation: A twenty-six-year-old Caucasian male presented to the University of Pennsylvania School of Dental Medicine with a past medical history of Percocet® abuse. He was consuming approximately twenty tablets per day for three years, and he had neglected to visit a dentist for over five years before arriving to the School of Dental Medicine.

Management and Outcome: Intraoral examination revealed gross generalized decay along with generalized plaque accumulation. He was diagnosed with severe plaque induced gingivitis with localized chronic periodontitis and xerostomia. The dental treatment for this patient included periodontal maintenance and control, caries excavation, root canal therapy, extractions of non-restorable teeth, and continuous dental education.

Discussion: Prescription opioids are addictive, have high abuse potential, and dentists contribute to this problem by overprescribing these drugs.


Dental caries, dental management, drug abuse, hydrocodone, oxycodone, opioid, prescription.


DMD Candidates, University of Pennsylvania School of Dental Medicine, Philadelphia

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