Your comfort during and after dental treatments is important.
Whether you have a dental emergency or procedure, our top priority will be getting you back to normal as quickly as possible.
If your dentist determines that your condition requires pain medication, he or she will review your medical history, current drugs or medications you are taking, and any known drug allergies, and then recommend an appropriate over-the-counter (OTC) pain medication or prescription-type treatment.
Talk with your dentist about the following OTC pain medication regiments for expected or unexpected soreness after dental procedures.
- During dental treatments: We will use proven dental local anesthetics (LA) and procedures to ensure your comfort during dental treatments. Most, but not all, dental procedures require local anesthetics. A strong topical anesthetic can be used during cleanings if you have sensitive gums.
- After routine dental treatments such as fillings, crowns, or teeth cleanings: We do not expect you to have pain or soreness after these treatments. If you do have mild soreness, we recommend that you take an OTC pain medication such as 400 mg Ibuprofen (Advil or Motrin) four times a day for up to two days, as long as you are not allergic and you do not exceed the maximum dose. If you experience unusually moderate to severe pain after a routine dental visit, please contact your dental clinic.
- After a periodontal therapy treatment or after routine root canal therapy: You may experience minor soreness for a day or two after the procedure. We recommend that you take an OTC pain medication such as 400 mg Ibuprofen four times a day for two to three days.
- After a dental surgical procedure or tooth extraction: You may experience more intense soreness for up to a few days after one of these procedures and require a higher level of post-treatment pain management. If the surgery is not particularly difficult, 600 mg Ibuprofen along with 325 mg Acetaminophen (Tylenol) taken four times a day for five to seven days is a safe, but effective recommended treatment. For more extensive surgeries or difficult extractions (bony third molars), your dentist may write you a prescription for a narcotic or opioid pain medication. These are effective for moderate to severe pain but carry a high risk for side effects, addiction, and/or abuse.
- Patients coming to our office in dental pain: To most effectively help you, we will evaluate your situation, diagnose the cause of the pain, perform the appropriate emergency dental treatment, and, if need be, follow up your procedure with pain medication therapy (either a prescription or OTC) and/or an antibiotic or other indicated medication.
Important information about the pain medications used in dentistry:
Narcotic pain medications
Examples: Norco, Vicodin, Percocet, and Codeine
These medications are typically given in combination with other medications such as Acetaminophen or Ibuprofen. Hydrocodone and Oxycodone, the active ingredients in narcotic medications, are greatly effective for moderate to severe pain.
They work centrally, in the brain or Central Nervous System (CNS), by blocking or masking pain signals. Narcotics can interact with other medications you are taking and have a high risk of side effects, addiction, and drug abuse.
Example: Acetaminophen (Tylenol)
Acetaminophen works on the Central Nervous System (CNS) by masking pain signals. There are few side effects and it is a non-sedative medication.
NSAIDs (Non-Steroidal Anti-Inflammatory Drugs)
Examples: Ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin) or Naproxen (Aleve)
These work peripherally at the site of inflammatory pain by counteracting inflammatory mediators and reducing/stopping pain signals.
This combination of drugs is ideally suited for inflammatory dental pain. The combination works synergistically, and is better and quicker than either drug used on its own.
This combination works both peripherally and centrally, and is both highly effective and extremely safe. Recent studies have compared and confirmed the effectiveness of this combination to be as effective as opioid combination pain relievers but with lower incidences of adverse effects. Expect this to be our first choice in most situations where our patients need treatment for moderate to severe pain.