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Changing regulations limit the amount of pain medicine young dental patients can receive

Like many adults, children require medication to deal with the pain associated with having dental work done, such as early extractions and cavity fillings. Now, under a new law by the Federal Drug Administration, patients younger than 12 have limited options when it comes to prescription pain medication.

Prior to April 2017, under the supervision of a dentist, children as young as 5 were prescribed narcotics such as tramadol, codeine and Tylenol 3, which is a mixture of liquid Codeine and Tylenol for procedures that may cause extreme pain and discomfort. The new law now states that patients under the age of 12 cannot be prescribed these medications. The fear was that these medications could cause difficulty breathing and possible overdose, which usually only occurs if the parents who are administering the medication give their child more than the recommended dosage or they mix it with something else.

To prevent accidental overdoses of any medication, it is the responsibility of parents and guardians to ensure children receive the proper dosage stated by their pharmacist and/or the dentist, stick to a medication schedule and keep medication out of the reach of children. According to a report by the American Academy of Pediatrics, children are considered “ultra-rapid metabolizers,” meaning that their bodies break down medications quicker than adults do so it doesn’t take as much dosage to affect them. The same report found that “Patients with documented or suspected obstructive sleep apnea appear to be at particular risk because of opioid sensitivity, compounding the danger among rapid metabolizers in this group.”

Pediatric dentists are now limited to prescribing Tylenol and ibuprofen for patients under the age of 12. Tylenol 3 can be prescribed to children ages 12-14, and after the age of 14 patients can be prescribed hydrocodone for procedures such as tooth extractions now that they’re getting into adult dentistry. Even as adolescents get into their teen years, it is still up to the parents to monitor their child’s pain medication dosage. Another report by the American Academy of Pediatrics stated that “Two million Americans under the age of 12 years either abused or were dependent on opioid painkillers in 2013.”

Due to the limited pain medications options, preventative dental health care is vital. Proper pediatrics dental care includes frequent visits to the dentist as early as age one after the child starts growing teeth, seeing a dentist as soon as there is evidence of dental decay and of course the essential home care that includes a brushing and flossing schedule. Early visits to the dentist also reduces the inherent fear that goes along with dental visits and procedures.

According to Parents magazine, “Dentists now recommend that kids see a dentist for the first time by their 1st birthday. Twice-yearly dental checkups and proper care at home are the keys to ensuring pearly whites throughout childhood.”

Regular trips to the dentist, scheduled cleanings and proper in-home care drastically reduces the need for painful procedures like extractions, and then in turn the need for pain medication. A child’s dental habits at young ages usually determines their dental habits as adults.

Contact your dentist for further questions about this topic or any other general questions about pediatric dental care or contact one of our offices at Children’s Dentistry in Southern Nevada or Tooth Fairy Pediatric Dental in Northern Nevada.

Reference: VegasINC