You've just had a tooth pulled and the numbness is wearing off. You want to know what you can take for pain, specifically what works best after a tooth extraction. Good news! You probably already have what you need in your medicine cabinet at home. Studies, including one from Case Western Reserve University, have shown that ibuprofen and acetaminophen together provide excellent pain relief after dental work, with fewer side effects than opioids, also called narcotics.
Should I Take Opioids After a Tooth Extraction?
When it comes to the best pain medicine after a tooth extraction, you might be getting mixed information. Many dentists and doctors prescribe opioids, such as Vicodin or hydrocodone, which have a high potential for abuse. Patients often think that they need strong medication after surgery, even oral surgeries like tooth extractions, and that over-the-counter pain relievers won't be enough. However, opioids are often not necessary, nor even the best medication for the job. In addition, opioids like Vicodin, which is prescribed by many dentists and doctors, have a high potential for addiction and abuse as well as side effects like dizziness, drowsiness, respiratory depression and constipation.
Benefits of Ibuprofen and Acetaminophen
According to a study published in Clinical Therapeutics, combining ibuprofen and acetaminophen significantly improved pain after dental extractions. However, it's important to talk to your doctor or dentist before taking any medication and follow the manufacturers' instructions.
To understand why, it helps to know how the medications work. Acetaminophen increases the body’s pain threshold. Ibuprofen, an NSAID, decreases inflammation and pain. When used together, as directed, you get relief from both pain and swelling following your tooth extraction.
On the other hand, opioids change pain messages in the brain and can have more serious side effects. This class of drug can cause dizziness, drowsiness, respiratory depression and constipation. Even worse, these drugs can lead to opioid addiction, even when used as prescribed.
In some cases, if you're still in pain after taking a combination of ibuprofen and acetaminophen, your doctor or dentist can add an opioid for acute pain, says Pharmacy Times.
It's no fun being in pain after having a tooth pulled. There are some ways to help tackle the pain, but always make sure you're following post-extraction instructions from your dentist, and you'll soon be back to smiling with ease.