Written by Dr. Alice Vessel


…Is, you guessed it, an adverse stimuli that is perceived as OBNOXIOUS!.   Dentists are accustomed to patients equating dental care to PAIN.

Pain is both physical and emotional.   The more elevated the emotion, the more physical pain becomes.  The treatment of pain centers on whether it is acute (pain less than 3 months) or chronic (pain lasting over 3 months).

Chronic pain responds best to both cognitive therapy and physical therapy to dampen the signals to the brain.

Acute pain is what we see in dentistry.

Pain Regimens

  1. We can prescribe opioids which carry a whole host of problems.   Or
  2. We can start the patient on a regimen of ibuprofen and acetaminophen. (Motrin and Tylenol)


Vicodin and Percocet work in the central nervous system to tell us there really is no pain.  The receptors in the brain for these drugs are the same receptors that respond to endorphins.  Endorphins are produced in our body to give us that “warm-fuzzy” feeling after exertion (say, exercise).When prescribed for over 10 days, they become addictive.


Tylenol and Motrin (acetaminophen and ibuprophen) work at the site of tissue injury by stopping the chemical that leads to pain.  They are non-addictive and more effective at treating acute pain.

 So that tooth extraction?..... bring on 400 mg Ibuprophen and 600 mg Tylenol

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