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Over-the-Counter Medications Are Often Enough to Manage Post-Surgical Discomfort
Posted on 12/21/2020 by Young Jun DDS MD FACS
Many people assume that oral surgery is always extremely painful, and that only a prescription pain medication will work to relieve discomfort during the recovery process. While prescription medications are necessary in some cases, there are many times when over the counter painkillers are sufficient.
Individual Pain Tolerance Level Varies
Everyone is different, so people's individual tolerance levels for pain can vary widely. We often prescribe opioid pain medications for managing discomfort after a variety of different oral surgeries, and we provide patients with specific instructions on how and when to take these medications. Some patients may find it necessary to take the prescribed painkillers as instructed for the first day or two after surgery, while others may get relief from using over the counter medications, and still others may not need to take any pain medicine at all. Before surgery, we discuss discomfort with patients, so they know what to expect while they recover. We always tell patients to monitor their pain level after surgery and call us if they have any questions.
When Are Prescription Painkillers Necessary?
Some studies have shown that when taken together, over the counter medications like ibuprofen and acetaminophen are more effective than opioid-based pain medications for easing discomfort after oral surgery. With over-the-counter medications, there is less risk for the adverse side effects that often occur with opioid use, such as nausea, vomiting, and drowsiness. Instructing patients to try managing discomfort with over-the-counter medications may also help prevent against opioid addiction.
However, prescription pain medications might be the best or only option for some patients. For people who are not able to take ibuprofen or acetaminophen for whatever reason, or people who are prone to higher pain levels after surgery, prescription painkillers may be necessary. You should always follow our instructions when it comes to taking both prescribed and over the counter medications. Call us if you have questions about managing post-surgical discomfort.