Better Pain Management After Dental Procedures

What is the best way to manage pain after tooth extraction or other dental procedures? The answer to the question might surprise you.

A new study by The Journal of the American Dental Association compared the effectiveness and the side effects of OTC Pain Meds - paid - shutterstock 736488091“nearly all analgesic formulas.” Two important conclusions are:

  1. “Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) are effective for relieving postoperative pain.”
  2. “Opioid combinations are associated with high incidences of adverse effects, such as nausea, vomiting, and constipation.”

It is noteworthy that in the assessment there was no comparison of “acetyl-para-aminophenols (APAPs) and hydrocodone that found it to be more effective than some over-the-counter medications either alone or in combination. These NSAIDs, like ibuprofen and naproxen sodium, have been more effective than opioids in relieving post-operative pain.

In fact, taking two Tylenol (400 mg) with one Advil (200mg of ibuprofen) every 4 – 6 hours is as effective as taking one Tylenol with codeine and without the side effects. Please remember that staying ahead of pain is much easier than trying to relieve pain once it begins.

A previous study by the Journal of the American Dental Association linked adolescent opioid abuse to postoperative opioid prescriptions written by dentists. Specifically, “nearly 6% of almost 15,000 people between 16 and 25 years old who received initial opioid prescriptions in 2015 from dentists were diagnosed with opioid abuse within a year. In comparison, 0.4% in a similar group who didn’t get dental opioids were diagnosed with opioid abuse during the same period.”

At Complete Dental Care of Salem, VA, we have prescribed over-the-counter drugs for pain whenever possible for a number of years. We do not see value in over-medicating our patients. We are proud to be an early adopter in a movement among dentists across the country that will withhold opioid painkillers whenever possible. When we prescribe over-the-counter medications, we make a point of explaining how to use these medications for adequate pain relief. If we believe it likely that you will experience pain after a dental procedure, we may suggest that you take an NSAID before you leave the office.

People have been managing oral pain after dental procedures for centuries. Many of them used some “natural remedies” such as:

  • Hydrogen peroxide, which can heal bleeding gums, reduce swelling, and kill bacteria.
  • Vanilla extract, an antioxidant that aids healing. Because it contains alcohol, it is valued for its pain-relieving properties, as well.
  • Clove oil has been used widely for its antiseptic properties and because it reduces pain and inflammation. It can be applied directly to the gums or mixed with water to make a mouthwash.
  • Thyme essential oil can be used in the same way as clove oil.
  • Guana leaves, when chewed, have anti-inflammatory effects.
  • Wheatgrass is can relieve inflammation and prevent infection.

If you have any question about any medication that we recommend to you either for pain relief or for anti-bacterial and anti-inflammatory needs, please just ask us what we are prescribing and what your concerns are about any medication. We can work with you to find an effective non-opioid medication or combination of medications.