Opioid Free Wisdom Teeth Extractions

Exparel reduces need for opioid pain medications like oxycodone and hydrocodone after wisdom teeth extractions

We’ve reduced or eliminated the need for opioids after oral surgery with Exparel.

Are you concerned with the use of opioid medications – such as Vicodin and Percocet – after oral surgery procedures such as wisdom teeth extractions? Are you a Connecticut resident and need your wisdom teeth removed but are worried about the use of narcotic pain medications? If yes, you can rest assured that we can offer a pain management solution for oral surgical procedures that can reduce or eliminate the need for opioid medications.

Specifically, Dr. Nick Calcaterra is pleased to offer Exparel – considered by many to be the gold standard in non-opioid pain relief for oral surgical procedures such as third molar extractions. Dr. Calcaterra has been using Exparel on patients – specifically on those undergoing wisdom teeth extractions with IV sedation – and has personally witnessed a dramatic decrease in the number and potency of opioids he needs to prescribe post-operatively.

Opioids and Oral Surgery

Percocet is an opioid and is used after oral surgery like wisdom teeth.

Percocet – a powerful pain medication containing the opioid oxycodone – is frequently prescribed after oral surgery.

Opioids – also referred to as narcotics – are powerful analgesic medications that can help relieve the acute pain originating from oral surgical procedures such as wisdom teeth extractions. But in addition to their analgesic properties, these medications will produce euphoria and can be habit forming. 

For years, oral surgeons and dentists would routinely prescribe these pain medications after invasive oral surgical procedures. It was not uncommon for a dentist to prescribe 20 Percocet pills after having four wisdom teeth removed. The narcotic would be used along with “traditional” pain medications such as NSAIDs (non-steroidal anti-inflammatories – such as Motrin, Advil, Aleve, etc.).

The vast majority of patients would use the medications responsibly. Patients would take them for the acute pain phase after oral surgery – usually 1 to 4 days – and then discard the rest. However, because opioids can be habit forming, a certain percentage of patients would continue to crave the euphoric effects after they were healed from the surgery. Some would go on to develop an addiction to these opioids – called hydrocodone and oxycodone – and then typically move on to more powerful illicit drugs such as heroin.

There are many studies which document this phenomenon – too many to list. In one study, it was determined that those patients who were given prescriptions  following wisdom teeth surgery were three times more likely to continue using opioids months or even years later.

Going Opioid Free with Exparel

Dr. Nick Calcaterra, dentist in Orange, Connecticut, holding Exparel before performing wisdom teeth extraction surgery.

Dr. Nick Calcaterra holding Exparel before removing four wisdom teeth with IV sedation.

Because of the ongoing “opioid crisis” in this country, pharmaceutical companies came up with a novel solution. That solution is called Exparel. (For more information on Exparel – you can visit their website directly by going here.)

How does Exparel work? We will summarize it one sentence:

Exparel is a long lasting local anesthetic – like novocaine – that is administered into the surgical site during surgery that provides sustained pain relief for nearly 4 days.

Think about it this way: if you are slightly numb at the site of surgery for the acute pain phase – you will need much less pain relieving medications. Generally speaking, you won’t need to take powerful, mood-altering and habit forming opioids during that phase post-surgery.

We will summarize our experiences:

Our use of Exparel along with powerful NSAIDs such as 800 mg Motrin (ibuprofen) has led to our patients to either reduce or eliminate their need for opioids following wisdom teeth surgery.

Of course, there are many other factors that affect the level of pain after oral surgery. But Exparel is simply another “tool” we use to provide a more comfortable healing process.

Questions About Exparel

Aetna Dental insurance covers Exparel

Aetna Dental Insurance specifically covers Exparel

We get many questions regarding Exparel. Two of the most common:

Does Insurance Cover it? The short answer is that some insurance companies do. Aetna dental insurance has announced here that they provide coverage. Other insurers vary. We can submit to your dental insurance company for an estimate in advance of your procedure. Note that if you have Husky and are under the age of 21, Exparel is covered at 100% when used with wisdom teeth extractions.

Can you use Exparel on me? The short answer is probably. There are very few restrictions. Dr. Calcaterra or any other dentist who administers Exparel can review if you will benefit from it.

Request an Appointment

Request an appointment for wisdom teeth surgery without opioidsDo you need your wisdom teeth removed? Do you need another oral surgical procedure performed and want to see if Exparel is helpful? Are you interested in IV sedation? You’ve come to the right place. Call us at (203) 799 – 2929 or visit this page to request an appointment.

Disclaimer: Dr. Nick Calcaterra has no affiliation with Pacira Pharmaceutical and reports no disclosures. He is simply a health care practitioner with experience performing wisdom teeth extractions with and without Exparel – and wants potential patients to learn firsthand about what his experiences have shown.

Covid-19 Notice: We are open for all types of dental care.

We have been open for all types of dental care since May 20, 2020. Existing and new patients continue to be welcome. As always, our office exceeds the requirements recommended by the CDC, OSHA, and CT Dept of Public Health.