RICHMOND, Va. (WRIC) — The Virginia Dental Association (VDA) has a message for parents as they schedule a common summertime procedure for their teens.

Wisdom teeth extractions increase when high school and college students are on break. Traditionally, it is the first time many of them are exposed to painkillers.

The VDA says for the past three years, it has been working to change how dentists prescribe opioids, if at all.

“We try to limit it to just a few days and as low dose as we can and encourage the parent not to fill the prescription unless they absolutely have to,” explains Dr. Benita Miller, a Richmond periodontist and current VDA president. “We know that brains of people under the age of 20 aren’t as completely formed and react to opioids differently than older adults. We try to encourage parents to limit the use of opioids for their children.”

Dr. Miller says the VDA recommends pain management that does not involve narcotics, including Advil and Tylenol.

“The dental profession is very concerned. We know we’ve been part of the problem, and we really want to be part of the solution.”

Dr. Miller says parents are asking more and more questions about opioid alternatives at her office and others across the state, and getting everyone involved in the conversation is a great way to fight the epidemic. 

According to Dr. Miller, there are about 3,800 VDA members across the Commonwealth, and they are focusing on training and educational resources to reduce opioid prescriptions.