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Acute Tooth Pain Relief

How to manage dental pain

We all run into this issue at one time or another. Whether it is caused by new braces, dental work, or an accident, having acute tooth pain is, well, a pain. Fortunately, there are ways to deal with this to become more comfortable while you heal or adjust to new dental restoration. Your dentist or hygienist is always the first line of defense and has experience with tailoring pain management to your situation. If you have acute tooth or mouth pain and are unsure of the reason, please call your dentist as soon as possible to be seen.

The Role of NSAIDs (non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs)

Ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin, IB, and generic) is still the most prescribed, gold-standard option for dental pain. Oral ibuprofen is commonly used to relieve arthritis, inflammation, swelling, and migraines. Because it also treats the inflammation in your mouth tissue or after a procedure, as well as any fever, they are recommended before any opioid-based options are used.

Acetaminophen (Tylenol) is sometimes recommended along with ibuprofen or by itself when a patient cannot tolerate the ibuprofen. This one-two pain punch works by blocking the pain receptors at both ends.

Although safe, both of these options are readily available over-the-counter in standard doses but come with a caution against long-term use or taking more than 4,000 mg per day. Long-term NSAIDs can cause GI bleeding or renal failure. Overdosing can occur when combining cold medicine with additional drugs. Read your labels before taking any medication.


Opioid recommendations have decreased, and some doctors will not prescribe it for minor surgery. Many people do not tolerate oxycodone or codeine well, and it cannot be used during pregnancy. If your pain is not mitigated with NSAIDs, talk with your doctor or dentist. 

A JADA review of 58,000 patients who had wisdom tooth (third molar) removal discovered that combining ibuprofen and acetaminophen was more effective than any opioids and offered less risk.

Typical range of discomfort following dental procedures:


  • Frenectomy
  • Gingivectomy
  • Routine root canal
  • Scaling
  • Simple extractions
  • Subgingival restoration


  • Implant surgery
  • Periodontal flap surgery
  • Surgical endodontics
  • Surgical extractions


  • Complex implants
  • Partial or full bony impaction surgery
  • Periodontal surgery

Your dentist will discuss the process with you and ways that your team will help to control your pain, typically with a combination of options. Some people also have a high pain tolerance and require less medication than others to get relief.

The team at BayRidge Dental wants you to know that any questions regarding post-operative pain will be addressed at or prior to the appointment, and appropriate medications will be prescribed as necessary for pain management. Dr. Carangelo is available for urgent, same day tooth pain appointments for all patients of record as well as new patients. 

If you or your child has mouth pain interfering with daily activities, please call us to be seen.