The Best OTC Post-Op Analgesic Regimens

Dental Products Report, Dental Products Report January 2022, Volume 56, Issue 1

Most postoperative dental pain is acute and typically accompanied by tissue injury and/or inflammation. The drugs of choice for postoperative dental pain are acetaminophen and nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, which act by inhibiting cyclooxygenase enzymes that are responsible for the formation of prostaglandins that promote pain and inflammation.

Because opioid-based medications (Table 1) are not anti-inflammatory agents, medications such as hydrocodone, oxycodone, or codeine/tramadol are not considered the drugs of choice for treating most postoperative dental pain. Rather, these opioid analgesics should be reserved for when severe dental pain is anticipated. Whenever possible, clinicians should utilize OTC medications in a tiered approach based on the patient’s anticipated level of pain (Table 2) to provide effective nonopioid analgesic regimens.