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Long-term gabapentin use may be common among older patients

July 12, 2021
Medicare data shows many older people using gabapentin for more than 90 days post-op. Here's why dental professionals should keep patients' gabapentin use on their radar.

Some 20% of older patients who are prescribed gabapentin following surgery are using it for more than 90 days, suggesting long-term use is common.

According to an analysis of Medicare data published on Healio, long-term use of gabapentin in older people can lead to a host of side effects, including dizziness, drowsiness, and altered mental status.

Gabapentin, an anti-seizure drug also prescribed for nerve pain, is the topic of a popular DentistryIQ article in which Dr. Tom Viola spoke on its use as an adjuvant and frequently in combination with drugs of abuse to intensify their effects, especially opioids. After learning about and researching its potential dangers, Viola cautioned that “We dental professionals must be aware of gabapentin’s rise as a drug of abuse… recreational gabapentin abuse (with or without a prescription) needs to be on the radar of dental professionals due to its potential for producing not only additive adverse effects, but also serious drug-drug interactions with medications we commonly use during dental procedures.”

“Although a lesser evil than its opioid counterpart, long-term gabapentin use still brings risks,” agrees David Rice, DDS, chief editor of DentistryIQ. “Patients are wise to proactively collaborate with their health-care team in an effort to minimize their dosage and duration.”

Access the Healio article on long-term gabapentin use among older patients.