Unfortunately, we dentists are often associated with pain. “Ouch! You hurt me.” “Ouch! my tooth hurts.” “Ouch! My gums are bleeding.” “GIMME SOMETHING FOR PAIN!!!!”
So pretty much everyday I write prescriptions for pain medication. Let me give you a quick break down of the drugs dentists often use…
– NSAID’s: stands for Non Steroidal Anti Inflammatory Drug. These are things like aspirin, ibuprofen (Advil), and acetaminophen (Tylenol). You can get these without a little piece of paper from your doctor, and they can be pretty effective. I especially like ibuprofen.
– Opioids: Ahhh the poppy. These flowers are the source of a lot of pain relieving
medicines, as well as a lot of illegal drugs. Poppies are used to make morphine which is a powerful pain killer. Morphine derivatives include drugs like hydromorphone, oxymorphone, and codeine. These drugs are stronger than most NSAID’s and are addictive, therefore they should be used with caution.
One day, a drug manufacturer decided that if one drug was good for pain, then 2 must be better. The result was a combination of NSAID’s and Opiods… a match made in heaven it would seem.
So now we have drugs like Lortab and Vicodin which are combinations of opioids like hydrocodone, and NSAID’s like acetaminophen. These little pills have been used for years to help people get relief from pain associated with dental illness, after dental treatment, as well as other things that ail ‘ya like back pain.
The same combination and dose has been used for years. Since the opioids are the stronger drug, they tend to get more attention. But let’s not forget about the acetaminophen. You can OD on that stuff too.
Therein lies the problem. Too much of a good thing can be bad, and in this case it’s too much acetaminophen. High doses of acetaminophen can be toxic to your liver. Combine it with alcohol or other drugs that are hard on your liver, and you can be in serious trouble. In fact, acetaminophen poisoning is one of the leading causes of liver failure, and it is often used as a method to commit suicide especially in the UK. Bad stuff.
This has led the Food and Drug Administration to put a limit on the amount of acetaminophen in these pain medications. I think that this is a smart decision as people often forget how much acetaminophen they are ingesting when taking pain medication.
So there you have it. A smart move by the FDA to prevent over dosing.
If you have any questions about dental pain medication, or if you are experiencing dental pain, please give us a call at 615-298-2385 or check us out online at www.MusicCitySmiles.com .
P.S. prescribing of these drugs is monitored closely, and you must see a doctor to get a prescription.