Can I take Ibuprofen after a tooth extraction?
Q. Can I take Ibuprofen after a tooth extraction?
A. Yes, most dentists will recommend that their patients take Ibuprofen for pain relief after a tooth extraction. Ibuprofen is a fast-acting anti-inflammatory analgesic that demonstrates rapid absorption and effective pain relief in the hours following dental surgery.
Ibuprofen was originally identified as a suitable drug for long-term rheumatoid arthritis pain relief. It belongs to a class of painkillers called non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAID). There are a number of different NSAIDs available but Ibuprofen is the most commonly used and recommended for dental pain.
Ibuprofen is available in doses of 200–400 mg over-the-counter and at a prescription strength of 800 mg under the supervision of your dentist. It is FDA approved for the treatment of inflammatory diseases and mild to moderate pain.
Ibuprofen is the generic drug name but it is available under common brand names like Advil, Motrin, and Nurofen.
We often recommend a combination of ibuprofen and acetaminophen as the most effective non-narcotic treatment for tooth extraction pain. Studies have shown that ibuprofen and acetaminophen combined have a synergy that produces more pain relief than either drug used alone. Although Ibuprofen and acetaminophen are less potent painkillers than narcotic medicines, the combination of the two drugs can be used to treat acute pain without the side effects associated with opioids.
Although Ibuprofen is widely consumed, it is not suitable for every patient. Find out more – Why no ibuprofen after tooth extraction?
What causes pain after tooth extraction?
Although feeling pain is an unpleasant experience, it is also an important protective force that alerts the body to respond to injury. Pain after a tooth extraction is caused by the physical trauma of the dentist removing the tooth from the socket and the inflammatory response to the extraction.
When skin tissue is damaged, pain receptors called nociceptors are activated to send signals to the spinal column and brain, making you aware of the pain.
The immune system also plays a role in the creation of pain. Inflammation is a biological defense response triggered by the immune system when a tooth is pulled out. When the body is injured, an enzyme called cyclooxygenase-2 is activated to produce a hormone called prostaglandin. This defense response consists of changes in blood flow, an accumulation of fluids in connective tissue, and the creation of chemical compounds linked with pain. Tell-tale signs of inflammation include redness, swelling, and pain.
Localized inflammation is an important part of the tooth extraction healing process. With an increase in blood flow and the ejection of protein-rich fluids into the damaged tissue, repair and healing cells rid the location of dead molecules and bacteria. The swelling ( medically termed “edema”) caused by these biological processes creates pressure on nerve endings which results in sensations of pain and discomfort.
Taking Ibuprofen after a tooth infection is an effective way to block the pain signals sent to the brain and counteract the effects of inflammation.
Note – You can also take painkillers before a tooth extraction as a pain preventative strategy. Studies have shown that Ibuprofen taken before dental surgery will delay and reduce post-operative pain.
How long does inflammation last after tooth extraction?
The amount and duration of inflammation and swelling may be different for each patient. If the extraction was a simple, routine procedure, then inflammation will be minimal and short-lasting. A more complex procedure will likely cause more of an inflammatory response that lasts a little longer.
But in general, inflammation will peak on the 2nd or 3rd day after the extraction and then subside from then on.
Ibuprofen adverse effects
People with certain health problems are not allowed to take ibuprofen and are often not allowed to take other NSAIDs, so it’s important for you to discuss your medical history with your dentist or doctor so they can recommend the exact regimen of pain relievers for you to take after a tooth extraction.
Ibuprofen is safe to use at recommended doses but it is important to be aware of potential side effects.
Side effects that may occur when taking Ibuprofen include:
- Allergic reaction
- Gastrointestinal problems
- Cardiovascular risk
But for most healthy adult individuals following a tooth extraction, Ibuprofen is a wonderful pain reliever that you can take in order to help you stay comfortable after your extraction.
Dr. Lara Coseo
Having practiced general dentistry for 13 years, Dr. Lara currently serves as an Associate Professor at Texas A&M College of Dentistry.