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What's the Best Pain Relief after a Tooth Extraction?

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Medically Reviewed By Colgate Global Scientific Communications

If you’ve just gotten a root canal or had your wisdom teeth extracted, chances are you’re in pain. Now that the numbness has worn off, you might want to know what can help ease the pain. Did you know that the best relief you can get after a tooth extraction is found in your medicine cabinet? That’s right, a study conducted by the School of Dental Medicine at Case Western Reserve University has shown that ibuprofen taken in combination with acetaminophen is the most effective way to ease dental pain. In fact, in most cases, the combination of the two is more effective than opioids.

What Are the Benefits of Ibuprofen and Acetaminophen after Tooth Extraction?

A study published in Clinical Therapeutics shows that when acetaminophen and ibuprofen are co-administered, they provide more effective pain relief than when taken by themselves.

What makes the combination of ibuprofen and acetaminophen so effective? Why should you not only take ibuprofen after a tooth extraction? The American Dental Association explains, ibuprofen is a nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drug (NSAID), which means it helps with the pain you’re experiencing by reducing inflammation at the site where it’s occurring, in this case, your mouth. Meanwhile, acetaminophen acts centrally and blocks the transmission of pain signals within your central nervous system. Their mechanisms of actions complement each other, resulting in effective pain relief.

Should I Take Opioids after a Tooth Extraction?

The Pharmacy Times explains that opioids change pain messages in the brain and can cause dizziness, drowsiness, constipation, hallucinations, muscle rigidity, nausea, and vomiting. They can cause opioid addiction, even when used as prescribed.

That said, when it comes to pain relief, your dentist is the right person to ask for advice. If your dentist prescribes you an opioid, there's a good reason behind this. But if you feel uncomfortable with taking an opioid, don’t hesitate to ask questions about the dosage or inquire about alternative options. And of course, following your dentist and the manufacturer’s instructions is critical.

It’s no fun having your life disrupted by the pain a tooth extraction can cause. While you want things to get back to normal as soon as possible, it’s important to consider all the information while taking pain medications. Don’t forget to consult with your doctor, and you’ll be pain-free in no time!

Oral Care Center articles are reviewed by an oral health medical professional. This information is for educational purposes only. This content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Always seek the advice of your dentist, physician or other qualified healthcare provider. 

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