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According to a recent government-issued press release, only 183 people died as the result of opioid overdose in a Chicago suburb over the past year, and this is something officials were celebrating. Upon hearing this, the first questions that came to Dr. James Babiuk—an oral surgeon who’s been practicing for over 20 years—were, “Only 183?” and “How can this be something to be proud of?”

He began diving into the research on opioid use in the medical field and statistics on opioid addiction, as well as reading anecdotes of the acquisition and progression of opioid addiction. When he learned that most people’s first exposure to narcotics occurs during and after wisdom tooth removal, he realized that there might be something he could do.

With a little trial and error and a lot of research, he began modifying his technique in a way that would allow him to perform wisdom tooth extractions without the use of IV narcotics during procedures, and without having to prescribe narcotics for post-op pain. Dr. Babiuk provides a brief overview of his technique, which involves pre-op tissue conditioning designed to increase the healing capacity of tissue and reduce inflammation, thereby reducing pain and the need for pain medications. The results have been incredible—far better than the experience he had with the removal of his own wisdom teeth, and far better than what he sees from people who have sought care from oral surgeons adhering to the industry standard. But perhaps the greatest benefit is the avoidance of drugs that have and continue to contribute to the loss of so many lives.

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