Dental pain? Use the anti-inflammatories, not the antibiotics

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Dental pain can be very serious and sometimes people need urgent pain relief before they can get to a dentist.

Scientists from Melbourne Dental School suggest people should reach for anti-inflammatories, not antibiotics to reduce dental pain.

The research is published in Australian Prescriber and was conducted by Dr. Aovana Timmerman et al.

In the study, the team gave an overview of dental pain and the medicines that can help while awaiting dental treatment. They explain that antibiotics usually are not helpful.

They suggest that not all facial pain is caused by a dental problem. It may have another cause if, for example, the pain comes with a headache or is more a burning or ‘pins and needles’ pain.

Your doctor and/or dentist can help to find the cause of the pain or refer you to a specialist.

If you need relief from dental pain, ibuprofen is the first choice for most people or a combination of ibuprofen with paracetamol for stronger pain relief.

Be aware, however, that not everyone can take ibuprofen such as people with heart, kidney or liver conditions.

Speak to your GP or pharmacist if you are unsure, and make sure to read the label and follow the instructions to avoid unwanted side effects.

Antibiotics alone are usually not appropriate for dental pain. Having a fever, tenderness and a rapid spread of swelling may be signs of an abscess which will require drainage.

Your doctor or pharmacist can give advice and help you with your pain if you have to wait to see a dentist.

The best treatment for dental pain is dental treatment.

If you care about tooth health, please read studies about an important causes of tooth decay and gum disease, and how often should you get your teeth cleaned.

For more information about tooth health, please see recent studies about mouthwash that may increase your tooth damage, and results showing common tooth disease may increase the risk of dementia.

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