Oral Surgeon Persona: Pain Management Confidence

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Oral Surgeon Persona: Pain Management - Confidence

After decades of being criticized for mismanagement of pain by the overuse of opioids, oral surgeons now seem very confident in their changing understanding of pain and pain management in light of nationwide attention to opioid abuse. As a result, recent educational and professional practices and trends show a confidence and willingness to adopt new techniques and practices, such as those that do not require the prescription or use of opioids, and competency in evaluating possible substance abuse cases. We have identified the change in confidence and their views regarding pain management and summarized them below.



  • Oral surgery students felt high self-confidence regarding tooth extractions but lacked self-confidence in differentiating between pain of odontogenic or non-odontogenic origin.
  • New generation of dental professionals have learned how to prescribe opioids appropriately and how to think about pain differently. They are now approaching pain management with such tactics such as use of alternatives like Advil and Aleve or long-lasting numbing agents, neuropathy drugs, stretching exercises, and even meditation.
  • Long-lasting numbing agents give dentists confidence that patients can self-manage pain after surgery using NSAIDs like ibuprofen, and was cited by one surgeon to be the most effective pain management he's experienced in 36 years of practice.
  • The patient demand for non-opioid alternatives has grown with more than 7 in 10 patients opting for the alternative after tooth extraction, and 80% would do so even if it cost more, and thus surgeons can routinely provide patients with these options and have confidence that they will adhere to the management plan without the downsides of opioids. Additionally, whereas concerns about unsatisfied patient reviews were a concern, this new perspective means oral surgeons can educate the patient about pain management and alternatives with confidence that it will not lead to negative scores.


  • In light of the recent attention given to opioids in society, oral surgeons are engaging in new techniques that do not require opioids such as alternative options for wisdom tooth removal. Dental professionals rank fourth in prescribing opioids and surgeons are consciously offering and using alternatives to decrease their impact.
  • One of the biggest misconceptions regarding oral surgery is the perceived requirement for opioids for pain management, and those in the industry have been trying to drive patient awareness about effective alternatives.
  • Schools and professionals are rethinking the purpose of treating pain and the way they present that to patients so that they do not expect zero level of pain., and the role of dental professionals is changing as a direct result of the opioid crisis. All graduates are now required by the Commission on Dental Accreditation to be competent in assessing substance abuse disorders.


We examined articles, studies, and reports from credible and trusted sources to identify trends and analysis of oral surgeons and their understanding and management of pain in patients. These resources identify changes in the views of pain management in light of the opioid epidemic and changes in the educational offerings for future dental surgeons such as developing a competency in substance abuse screening and awareness of alternative solutions to opioids.