How to manage pain after a dental procedure

Opioids are a type of medication used to relieve pain. They require a prescription from your dentist or doctor and include medications such as Tramadol and Tapentadol.

To reduce the discomfort that can result from certain dental procedures, such as tooth extractions, gum and other dental surgeries or dental implants, dentists may prescribe pain medications, including opioids. Commonly prescribed opioid medications for dental pain include Tramadol or Tapentadol.

Prescription opioids can be used to treat moderate to severe pain and are often prescribed after surgery or injury. But because they can induce feelings of well-being and happiness as well as pain relief, they can be abused. For example, taking these types of medications for a longer period of time or at a higher dose than prescribed puts you at risk for opioid dependence. And if used improperly, opioids can lead to addiction, overdose or death.

What's more, recent studies show that patients who take prescription opioids after a dental procedure have a higher risk of overdose compared to those who do not receive opioids. The risk of overdose is also higher in family members of these patients, especially their children.

It is important to know that there are over-the-counter non-opioid medications - acetaminophen and nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) such as Acetaminophen (Tylenol, Excedrin, Vanquish), Aspirin, Diclofenac (Voltaren Gel), Ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin IB), Naproxen (Aleve) - that can be just as effective in treating most toothaches. Talk to your dentist about which medications might work for you.

Be sure to talk to your dentist about how to manage pain after a dental procedure. Ask your dentist if there are other ways besides opioids to relieve your pain. If your dentist prescribes opioid pain relievers, you should tell your dentist about any other medications you are currently taking and whether you or other family members have had any problems with substance use, such as alcohol, prescription drugs or illegal drugs.

Ask about the risks associated with taking the medication. Ask how to take the medicine and how long you must take it. Be sure to take the medicine according to the instructions you receive. Never drink alcohol while taking opioid medicines. Keep the medicine in a safe place out of sight and out of reach of children, teenagers, and guests, preferably in a locked cabinet. Dispose of any unused or expired medications as soon as possible. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration offers instructions on how to dispose of any unused medicine.