Removing a wisdom tooth can be a incredibly painful and traumatic experience. While there are many different ways to relieve the pain after a wisdom tooth surgery, over the counter pain relievers such as ibuprofen are often the quickest and easiest way to ease the pain and make your post-surgery a little better.
For most adults, you may consume 200mg to 400mg, or 1 to 2 tablets, of ibuprofen (Advil® or Motrin®) every 4 to 6 hours after the surgery for up to a week. The ibuprofen will help to relieve the dental pain while reducing swelling in the gum.
Note that while you may be prescribed a higher dosage immediately after the surgery, you should not consume more than 800mg (4 tablets) in a dose and 2400mg (8 tablets) of ibuprofen a day. You should gradually reduce your consumption of ibuprofen 3 to 5 days after the surgery as the pain subsides.
Your surgeon may also prescribe you with alternating doses of ibuprofen and acetaminophen (i.e. Tylenol®). A 2018 medical study released by Case Western Reserve University revealed that a combination of NSAID—ibuprofen, aspirin, naproxen sodium—and acetaminophen worked better at easing dental pain than opioids.
In any case, do not drive or operate a machinery immediately after the consumption of any pain medication they are known to cause side effects such as drowsiness and nausea. You should also avoid alcoholic beverages as it can increase the chances of stomach bleeding when consumed together with ibuprofen.
How Does Ibuprofen Work?
Ibuprofen is an anti-inflammatory medicine that work by reducing the ability of your body to produce prostaglandins, a chemical that makes nerves sensitive to pain while causing your tissues to be inflammed. By inhibiting the production of prostaglandins, your body reacts “less” to pain and illnesses. It generally takes 30 minutes for ibuprofen to take effect although results can vary from one person to another.
Ibuprofen is generally safe to consume for the general population. However, some may experience side effects such as headaches, indigestion, and in worse cases, ulcers in the stomach. The medication is not recommended for individuals who suffer from an allergic reaction to nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) or are pregnant.
On the other hand, opioids work by attaching to opioid receptors in the brain and blocking pain messages sent from the body to the brain. In addition, opioids can make one feel relaxed, and “high”, causing one to get addicted. In fact, Exparel concluded that young adults who take opioids for pain reliever after an oral surgery are three times more likely to become long-term users of the drug than those who didn’t.
Apart from addiction, user of opioids also suffer from a myriad of side effects including nausea, vomiting, slowed breathing, and drowsiness.
How Long Should I Take Ibuprofen After Wisdom Tooth Removal?
There is no universal answer to this question as it depends on a variety of factors including the dosage of ibuprofen being taken as well as any other medication that are being consumed together. Typically, ibuprofen should be taken for at least 3 days after a wisdom tooth removal surgery. Some people may need to take it for up to 14 days before the pain from the surgery subsides.
While there are no hard and fast rules on how long one can take ibuprofen on a consistent basis, it is not advised to consume NSAIDs on a long term basis as it can increase the risk of serious health conditions including anaemia, strokes, heart attacks, liver damage, and reduced fertility for women.
Taking the Right Dosage of Ibuprofen
Ibuprofen are an excellent and inexpensive pain reliever for patients who have just removed their wisdom tooth. While the pain medication can help to reduce pain and inflammation, you should always speak with your doctor about the potential risks associated with ibuprofen.
Also, pain relievers are only suitable for short-term relief and should not be consumed over an extended period as it may cause serious, permanent side effects. You should consult your dentist if you continue to experience pain three weeks to a month after your wisdom tooth removal.