Over-the-counter pain pills are safer and more effective than prescription opioids for controlling the pain following dental procedures, a review of the evidence has found.
Researchers analyzed five reviews of studies of medication and medication combinations for pain relief. They included only reviews of high or moderate methodological quality.
The data included many randomized trials on the use of oral medication for the most severe kinds of postoperative dental pain — for example, the pain following the extraction of a molar. More than three dozen drugs and drug combinations were tested in various dosages. The study is in The Journal of the American Dental Association.
The researchers conclude that the most effective pain relief with the fewest side effects comes from a combination of 400 milligrams of ibuprofen (Advil and other brands) with 1,000 milligrams of acetaminophen (Tylenol). No opioid or opioid-containing medicine or any other combination of drugs was more effective.