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Pain Relievers like Ibuprofen are Effective and Safe - if Used Properly


Managing pain is an important part of dental care — alleviating pain caused by disease or trauma and reducing discomfort during and after treatments. In many of these instances we can do this effectively with mild, over-the-counter drugs like ibuprofen or aspirin.

These Non-Steroidal Anti-Inflammatory Drugs (NSAIDs) are safer and have fewer side effects than stronger prescription pain drugs, and have proven effective after extensive studies. Nevertheless, they can cause problems if not taken properly.

NSAIDs work by blocking prostaglandins, substances released by diseased or damaged tissues that have become inflamed (swollen). Inhibiting prostaglandins reduces inflammation that in turn eases pain. This differs from steroids that reduce inflammation by suppressing the immune system or narcotics like morphine or codeine that act on the brain to reduce pain.

Both steroids and narcotics are strong, prescription medications used only for severe pain, and can be addictive if abused. While NSAIDs aren’t as habit-forming and have milder side effects, they can cause significant health problems if overused. The most common is their tendency to act as a blood thinner, which decreases the blood’s ability to clot.

This can lead to serious complications: over-extended use of aspirin, for example, can damage stomach lining and give rise to ulcers or dangerous bleeding; ibuprofen can damage the kidneys. An estimated 100,000 Americans are hospitalized each year due to ulcers or gastrointestinal bleeding linked to chronic NSAID use for pain relief. They’re not recommended for patients who are pregnant, have preexisting stomach problems or heart disease.

In short, NSAIDs are best used for only brief periods to alleviate short-term discomfort. Unless otherwise directed by a physician, a single dose of 400-600 milligrams is safe and normally sufficient for about five hours of mild to moderate pain relief; daily dosages shouldn’t exceed 2400 milligrams.

NSAIDs remain the best approach for alleviating most dental pain and discomfort. Taken properly, they can help you cope with pain until you’re back on your feet again.

If you would like more information on managing pain associated with dental care, please contact us or schedule an appointment for a consultation. You can also learn more about this topic by reading the Dear Doctor magazine article “Treating Pain with Ibuprofen.”

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  • "a month ago
    Travis Watson was truly the most kind, compassionate, honest, and detail-oriented dentist that I have ever been to. I have had work done by at least a half dozen or more dentists over the years, and Dr. Watson was BY FAR the most compassionate, kind, and caring when it came to my procedure and dental work needs. I couldn't possibly recommend. Dr. Watson and Pinon Hills Dental any higher. Five stars isn't enough. Dr. Watson should get 10 stars. If there was a Nobel Prize for dentistry, Dr. Watson should win it--and many times over. If you're considering a dentist in the Farmington area--or beyond (I came from Durango)--Dr. Watson should be your choice. Beyond belief, you'll actually look forward going to the dentist. I'm forever grateful for Dr. Watson's skill, compassion, and kindness--and you will be too."
    Peter Barr- Google Dec 2020
  • "I visited Pinion Hills Dental for the first time yesterday to get a cleaning and check up. I have nothing but great things to say about the experience that I had and quality of service. I had a great interaction with everyone involved from the front desk, to the hygienist Yvette and Dr. Watson himself. Highly recommend!"
    Colby Gibson-Google Oct 2020
  • "The staff here are very friendly and accommodating. I was in a decent amount of pain so they moved my appointment up and kept me from hurting for an extra 5 days. Dr. Watson personally called me to check on me and make sure things we're ok. It means a lot that he didn't have an assistant or secretary make that call."
    Kev Sharp-GoogleNov2020
  • "Dr. Watson is absolutely incredible in every way! We have always been treated with the utmost respect, compassion and expertise. He has gone out of his way to treat our family in emergency situations. In each instant, he provided amazing and excellent care when other dentists could not. He is always positive and reassuring in all situations! His office staff, dental assistants and hygienists are incredible in every way! The atmosphere in the office is peaceful, positive and upbeat! We highly recommend Pinon Hills!!!"
    Angela McDaniels- GoogleDec2020
  • "The politeness and care of the dentist, dental hygienist and the staff wowed me today. Dr. Watson and Dr. Weber really have a vested interest in your teeth. They are very concerned to the point that I brush and floss so I won't let them down.
    You never feel belittled by anyone in the office and they only encourage you when you need to do a little better. I used to worry about going to the dentist but now I know I have people who want the best for me in the doctors office."
    Kevin Jaramillo