Dentistry has advanced to the point in which pain is almost a thing of the past.
Powerful pain-killing medications known as anesthetics not only help a patient avoid discomfort during a procedure, but post-operatively as well.
Some patients, may require higher doses of anesthetic than others.
Types of pain-killing medications include:
- Analgesics - These are also called pain relievers and include common non-narcotic medications such as ibuprofen and tylenol. Analgesics are usually used for mild cases of discomfort.
- Narcotics - These are prescription medications and may be prescribed in cases of moderate to severe discomfort following such procedures as tooth extraction.
- Anesthetics - Anesthetics can either be topically applied or injected. Dentists often apply topical anesthetics with a cotton swab to an area of the mouth where a procedure such as a restoration will be performed. This numbs the affected area before the dentist anesthetizes the tooth. Septocaine and Lidocaine are the most common kind of injectable anesthetics. Such medications block the nerves from transmitting signals and are used for most dental procedures.
- Sedatives - Sedatives are medications designed to help a patient relax. This can be a powerful tool in avoiding pain. Sedatives are sometimes used in combination with other types of pain relievers and pain-killers. Nitrous oxide, or laughing gas, is a form of sedative. Conscious sedation involves administering a sedative while the patient is alert and awake. Deep sedation or general anesthesia involves administering a medication that places a patient in a state of monitored and controlled unconsciousness.
- Inhalation sedation - a form of sedation in which a medication (such as nitrous oxide) is administered through a special mask.