Having a wisdom tooth taken out can be an uncomfortable experience. While dentists use local anesthetic to numb gum tissue while they work on the tooth, the extraction site can remain sore for several days after the local anesthetic wears off. Over-the-counter painkillers such as ibuprofen and paracetamol can help to reduce your pain and let you get on with your life during healing, but which one works most effectively? A study published in the Cochrane Library may provide an answer to this question.
Should You Take Ibuprofen or Paracetamol?
Researchers collected and combined results from seven studies to work out whether ibuprofen or paracetamol is better at reducing pain after wisdom tooth extraction. The results revealed that ibuprofen was significantly better at reducing pain than an equivalent dose of paracetamol. Side effects were similar for both painkillers, suggesting that ibuprofen might be the best medicine to use after you have a wisdom tooth taken out.
What About Taking Both?
Researchers also tested a combination medicine that contained 400mg of ibuprofen and 1000mg of paracetamol. Although the amount of data was limited, results suggested this combination might be even more effective at reducing post-extraction pain. Ibuprofen and paracetamol have no known harmful interactions in adults, so it is safe to take both medicines together, as long as you do not exceed the maximum dose of either one. This can be a good option if a single medicine does not provide enough pain relief.
When to Ask for Advice
Not everyone can safely take paracetamol or ibuprofen. For example, if you have a stomach ulcer, taking ibuprofen could make the ulcer worse. Meanwhile, it is easy for people with damaged livers to overdose on paracetamol. If you are not sure which painkiller is right for you, let your doctor, dentist or pharmacist know your medical history and ask them for advice.
Do Not Ignore Severe Pain
If your pain is too severe to control with over-the-counter medicines, you may be suffering from more than normal post-extraction soreness. Although most wisdom tooth extractions go smoothly, in some cases bacteria invade the extract site and cause an infection that can trigger severe pain. If you notice that your pain is getting worse despite using over-the-counter pain medicines, or you have pus coming from the extraction site, contact your dentist right away. Dentists can prescribe antibiotics to treat the infection and prevent it from spreading further into your gum tissue.Share
18 December 2017
As a retired dentist, I work with charities which visit developing countries and educate children about dental care. It gives me great satisfaction to revisit these communities and see how proud the children are of their efforts. I am acutely aware that good dental hygiene can help prevent a range of serious conditions when these children become older. I started this blog because it greatly distresses me that many people in Australia do not seem to care for their teeth as much as children in these poor communities. This is happening despite ready access to items like toothbrushes and toothpaste which are luxuries in the places I visit. It is my hope that this blog encourages you not to take dental health for granted. My greatest wish is that you can be as inspired as the children I see in my charity work. Please read on and enjoy.