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Pain Relief After Oral Surgery

By Shelby Tatomir on August 14, 2018 in Clinic and Provider Tips


pain relief after oral surgery

Having your wisdom teeth removed is one of the most common mouth surgeries in the United States. It represents 95% of all tooth removals among 16 to 21 year olds with insurance. Most likely after your wisdom teeth removal, your oral surgeon may prescribe you Vicodin and hydrocodone, the most common opioid-based pain relievers after your surgery.  

Prescription History

Some dentists recommend opioid-based medicines like Vicodin or Tylenol with Codeine for their patients. Generally, these were thought to be most effective pain relievers after dental surgery.

This method became standard in the 1970s, almost 10 years before “non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs,” or NSAIDs like Tylenol and Advil, were even known to relieve pain.

Many have heard about or experienced wisdom teeth removal first-hand. You may have been prescribed Vicodin or hydrocodone for pain relief after the procedure. But, recently published clinical studies have found that prescribing these opioids may not be as necessary as previously thought.

Clinical studies have found that when you take acetaminophen and ibuprofen together, they are more effective for pain relief after oral surgery than opioid-based-pain medications.

Treating Pain Today

Doctors and dentists have the responsibility of treating disease and managing pain. Of course, they want to provide their patients with medicine that will give them the most pain relief after oral surgery. 

When a dentist writes the prescription, the patient is just out of surgery, still numb from anesthesia and doesn’t feel pain. This makes it much more difficult for the dentist to gauge how much pain the patient will be in when the numbness wears off.

Acetaminophen and ibuprofen, when combined, offer an alternative to opioid-based pain medications following oral surgery. This discovery allows dentists and oral surgeons to address their patient’s pain level in new, safer ways.

Exceptions to the Rule

For some, opioid-based pain relievers may be the only option. Approximately 20% of patients either cannot take pain relievers like Tylenol or Advil, or they require more intense pain relief after oral surgery.  

In addition to prescription medication, patients should always be aware of post-operative instructions. Home care instructions must be followed to experience the best outcome.  Lifestyle habits, such as smoking or alcohol consumption may increase the risk of infection and pain after surgery. 

Talk to your primary doctor and dentist about your health history, your concerns, and your questions before moving ahead with any surgical procedure. It could lead to a more personal and comfortable experience with your dentist!