Oral surgery pain medication can help you through your discomfort, which usually lasts a few days following surgical procedures like wisdom tooth extractions. But if you don’t find yourself in a lot of pain, you may use your prescription only sparingly, or not at all. You may decide to use over-the-counter medications like acetaminophen or ibuprofen instead.
But then what happens to your prescription? Chances are, it sits in your medicine cabinet and you don’t give it a second thought.
Don’t let your unused prescription be used for ill — take the right steps to dispose of unused oral surgery pain medication right away.
The Recovery Process
Your oral surgeon will prepare you ahead of time for what to expect after your surgical procedure. If you’re getting your wisdom teeth removed, they will explain that bleeding should slow and stop shortly after surgery, and you will feel sore for the next few days. And if your gums and cheeks swell, you’ll have to use ice packs.
While you’ll likely be given a prescription, your oral surgeon may recommend that you try to avoid taking it. Instead, take extra-strength over-the-counter medications, and only depend on the prescription if your first option doesn’t take away the pain. They will encourage you to call their office and come in for a checkup if serious pain does not subside after a few days.
Study Shows Most Prescriptions Aren’t Fully Used
The University of Pennsylvania’s Perelman School of Medicine and School of Dental Medicine conducted a study that shows most patients follow these directions. After five days of recovery, most patients felt very little pain but still had most of their opioid prescription left.
In total, the study concluded that over 100 million opioid pills from oral surgery pain medication prescriptions went unused. The study also showed that friends and family members who abuse prescription opioids are highly likely to find and take leftover pills.
What to Do with Your Medication
The study showed that educating patients on how to responsibly dispose of their opioid oral surgery pain medication can increase proper disposal rates by 20 percent. One of the primary ways you can do this is to bring your unused prescription back to your pharmacy. They may have a disposal kiosk set up where you can leave the remains of the prescription that you didn’t need. If this isn’t an option, ask your pharmacist how you should dispose of the medication. You may be able to dispose of it in the trash, as long as the pills are in a sealable bag.
Northeast Oral & Maxillofacial Surgery supports the responsible management of oral surgery pain medication, and will help you find a way to effectively dispose of all unused prescriptions to increase community safety.