GOLDEN VALLEY, Minn. — Medical professionals want to spread the word about the connection between the opioid epidemic and a trip to the dentist.

In a new public service announcement, UnitedHealthcare and Shatterproof warn that teens and young adults are especially at risk of getting hooked on opioids because many are first exposed to them after getting their wisdom teeth removed.

Dr. Robert Kantor, Market Chief Medical Officer for Minnesota, North Dakota and South Dakota, says both dentists and families can help prevent opioid misuse.

“Typically, prescriptions for opioids are given more than is needed,” Kantor said. “Do you really need to use these? And that is a great question that people can ask, parents and young people, can ask their providers.”

The PSA campaign says patients should ask their dentist to consider limiting prescriptions to three days. It also says using over-the-counter pain relievers are a better option because they are not addictive.

Kantor says that a good alternative is to combine Ibuprofen and Tylenol. He says doctors did not recommend that in the past, but that it is now acceptable.

The PSA also encourages people to properly dispose any unused medications. There are drop-off boxes in many places, including police stations.

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