Dental Dose: Why ibuprofen works for dental pain

By Theresa Pablos, editor in chief

October 8, 2021 -- Dental Dose is a twice-monthly video series featuring pharmacologist Tom Viola, RPh. In each episode, Viola shares bite-sized pieces of dental pharmacology news, facts, and myths.

There are many nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) in the world of pharmacology, but ibuprofen stands out from the rest. Viola shared the reasons why ibuprofen is the NSAID of choice for dental pain in the latest episode of Dental Dose.

"At the end of the day, dental pain is different because it's acute, inflammatory pain," Viola said.

Ibuprofen, often known by the brand name Advil, works for dental pain because it is a short-acting drug that is very effective at reducing inflammation. However, it's not the best pain reliever. That's why dental professionals will often prescribe ibuprofen with acetaminophen, a medication that excels at pain relief but is not an anti-inflammatory.

"The beauty of that combination is that they complement each other so well that you can take both of them together but at a lower dose and still get a greater overall effect," Viola said.

While ibuprofen works well for many people, it may not be the right choice for all patients, including those with an allergy or sensitivity or who take certain medications. Viola advised consulting with a patient's physician when in doubt.

Watch the video below to learn more about why ibuprofen beats out other types of NSAIDs for dental pain.

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