Ibuprofen and Acetaminophen Together May Give Profound Pain Relief With Fewer Side Effects After Dental Surgery

Taking ibuprofen and acetaminophen (APAP) together can help manage pain after dental surgery without significantly increasing the side effects that often are associated with other drug combinations, according to an article in the August issue of The Journal of the American Dental Association.

Taking combinations of drugs to manage pain after oral surgery has been advocated in the last few years as a substitute for taking over-the-counter drugs—such as ibuprofen, naproxen and APAP—by themselves because the drug combinations can provide greater pain relief. The most common combination is APAP and an opioid—a prescription drug. The ibuprofen-APAP combination has been suggested as an alternative to taking opioid-APAP combinations to help patients avoid the potential adverse reactions associated with opioids.

Drs. Paul A. Moore, chair of the Department of Dental Anesthesiology, School of Dental Medicine, University of Pittsburgh, and Elliot V. Hersh, professor of pharmacology, Department of Oral Surgery and Pharmacology, School of Dental Medicine, University of Pennsylvania, evaluated the scientific evidence for using the ibuprofen-APAP combination to manage pain in patients after they had their wisdom teeth (third molars) removed.

They found that the ibuprofen-APAP combination may provide more effective pain relief and have fewer side effects than many of the opioid-containing combinations. They also found evidence indicating that the ibuprofen-APAP combination provided greater pain relief than did ibuprofen or APAP alone. The adverse effects associated with taking the ibuprofen-APAP combination were similar to those of the individual component drugs.

“The demonstrated improvement in postoperative pain relief for the combination of ibuprofen and APAP provides another strategy for pain management, and an alternative to prescription opioid formulations after third-molar extraction surgery,” stated Drs. Moore and Hersh in their article.

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