One of the challenges every dentist faces is how to manage patient pain. It is common for patients to experience post-treatment discomfort. The amount depends on the procedure. For example, extraction of teeth will result in more post-treatment discomfort than other dental procedures. The type of medication used to manage post-treatment pain is a decision made by the dentist. The dentist understands if the procedure was simple and non-traumatic or if it was very involved.
The best way to manage pain is to prevent it. At the end of the appointment, I give patients 600mg ibuprofen. If the patient can’t tolerate ibuprofen, then it is 500mg acetaminophen. Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory medications (NSAIDS) prevent the body from making inflammatory mediators. Inflammatory mediators are substances that tell the nervous system to have a pain response. The more inflammatory mediators you make, the more pain you will have. NSAIDS prevent the body from making these inflammatory mediators. NSAIDS along with root canal treatment will greatly reduce pain. I know this first hand. In 2011, I had two root canals. My first time being on the receiving end. Ibuprofen is all I needed for both. The root canal treatment removes the infected nerve tissue that is the source of pain. Then, the NSAIDS help the body to remove the inflammatory mediators so that the patient can finally have relief. There is no tolerance to NSAIDS. This means that it will always work as intended.
I attached this article from the Tennessean. Prescription drug abuse is a real problem. The science behind pain associated with endodontics (root canals) supports the use of NSAIDS as the drug of choice. Multiple studies (Menhinick et al 2004 is a great article) have proven the efficacy of NSAIDS to manage post-treatment discomfort. I also feel that is our duty to not add to the problem of prescription drug abuse. I encourage everyone to educate themselves on this issue. Have a blessed week!