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Medications Used in Dentistry

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Introduction to dental medications

There are several types of medications that are used to manage a variety of diseases involving the oral cavity (mouth) that are part of good dental care. The medications discussed in this article have pharmacological properties that are used to treat conditions such as pain, anxiety, and infections, amongst others.

It is important to always communicate all dental signs and symptoms to your dentist, so that appropriate management and choice of medications can be made.

Medications used to control pain and anxiety

One of the most commonly reported dental complications involves various levels of pain. Due to this fact, pain management is an important goal for all dentists and patients.


Non-narcotic analgesics are the most commonly used drugs for relief of toothache or pain following dental treatment as well as fever. The commonly-used medications used are:

  • ibuprofen (Advil, Nuprin, Motrin), acetaminophen (Tylenol), and aspirin (for example, Bayer);

  • corticosteroids such as Orabase-HCA, Oracort, and Oralone are anti-inflammatory medications that are used to relieve discomfort and redness of the mouth;

  • and for severe pain conditions, narcotic analgesics such as codeine or hydrocodone (Vicodin) may be given. Codeine formulations usually include acetaminophen for increased efficacy, for example, Vicoprofen and Tylenol #3.

Note: Ibuprofen occasionally causes xerostomia (dry mouth) that may increase oral plaque and dental caries (cavities).

Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 4/26/2016

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