Today in the dental office Pops – Dr. Medina to most of you- and I started talking about drugs. I was telling pops that as an ER nurse, I have about 30 drugs I give out regularly. From heart attacks to rashes, abdominal pain to migraines, I’d say everything gets treated with approximately 30 meds. Pops said he has his favorite 10. I asked him to tell me more, and found out about the BIG THREE.
Obviously all pain medications given at the dental office are designed for short term pain relief only, while treatment is provided.
If you come to the dental office for big pain- usually a toothache- Dr. Medina could give you the BIG THREE. These three diverse medications hit the pain in different ways for max relief. Let’s talk about what these medications entail. There are situations where Dr. Medina may give only one pain med, or he may recommend a combination of all three.
- First we’re looking at an NSAID. NSAIDS, such as ibuprofen (brand name Motrin) or flurbiprofen (brand name Ansaid) are anti-inflammatories. They block the production of prostaglandins, a lipid compound in your body that causes pain from inflammation and swelling. NSAIDS are nice because you take them and go about your daily life – you’re free to take them and drive. One thing to be careful of with NSAIDS is they can increase bleeding.
- Next we’re looking at acetaminophen. Acetaminophen (commonly known as Tylenol) is a pain reliever and also reduces fever. Acetaminophen works by reducing the amount of prostaglandins your body produces. Acetaminophen is nice because it is easily available. Dosages must be carefully monitored, though, because overdoses cause liver failure and even death.
- Last but not least, we’re looking at a narcotic. Dr. Medina says he usually gives Vicodin or Percocet- these are the brand names for acetaminophen mixed with an opioid, like hydrocodone or oxycodone. They work by binding to receptors in your central nervous system, which decreases your response to pain. Narcotics are awesome for big pain, but are only for short term use. You cannot drive when taking them, and they have multiple side effects, ranging from constipation to severe respiratory distress.
Come see Dr. Medina for any mouth pain, from little to big! And feel free to discuss your medications with your dentist, as well as your primary doctor or pharmacist. May you have a very happy mouth this holiday season!