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Protecting Your Oral Health & Opioids Abuse Prevention

The days following oral surgery can be painful for the patient, so dentists often prescribe pain medications. Common medications include opioids, NSAIDs, and other over-the-counter drugs. Opioids, specifically, are pain-relieving medications that can cause feelings of well-being and happiness. However, they can be highly addictive. It has been increasingly evident during COVID-19 in the DMV area as many people have been trying to find a way to numb out high levels of pain and stress. So, many general dentistry practices are now suggesting safer alternatives.

At Smile Reston Heights, we offer comprehensive general dentistry to folks in the Reston, VA, area. Our team makes your health and well-being our first and foremost priority. We conduct detailed diagnoses and plan to try and avoid the need for strong medications. Plus, we give you complete treatment information upfront to help you make informed decisions about your health.

Below, we explore alternatives for opioids as well as the safe use of them:


Non-Steroidal and Anti Inflammatory Drugs (NSAIDs) are common painkillers such as aspirin or ibuprofen. They are proven to be quite effective in relieving acute dental pains. NSAIDs are now recommended to dentists by the American Dental Association as the first line of pain management after surgery. 

Studies have shown that NSAIDs are just as (if not more) effective than opioids for reducing pain intensity and frequency after dental procedures. These medications are over-the-counter and your dentist can recommend more doses depending on your pain levels.


Acetaminophen, also known as Tylenol, is another type of pain reliever. It’s used to treat common physical pains and fevers and may be obtained over-the-counter.

NSAIDs and Acetaminophen

If your pain becomes extreme, your dentist may instruct you to use both NSAIDs and acetaminophen. This can be a better alternative than using opioids, as fewer side effects come from using the two medications. 

Using NSAIDs and acetaminophen can have a synergistic effect in treating acute dental pain. This effect has similar pain relief to opioids without the risks of side effects.

Safe Use of Opioids

In cases where opioids are necessary for acute dental pains, keep these safe use tips in mind:

  • Work with a dentist on a plan of use
  • Talk to your dentist about the side effects and concerns
  • Follow up with your dentist regularly
  • Never take more than the prescribed amount
  • Avoid taking them with alcohol or other substances/medications
  • Store in a safe place
  • Safely dispose of any remaining opioids at the end of your treatment

General Dentistry Now Available in Reston, VA

With the current opioid crisis, educating people about the safe use of opioids and finding alternatives to them are becoming more prevalent. NSAIDs and acetaminophen are over-the-counter alternatives that provide safe and effective relief. And at Smile Reston Heights, we incorporate their usage into our general dentistry practices for the Reston, VA, area. Our first line of care is the use of over-the-counter pain medications for our patients. Contact us for general dentistry care or call us at (703) 386-7872 for more information on how we can help.

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