Using Ibuprofen and Acetaminophen For Pain Management

Pain management has often been a controversial subject, especially when opioids are involved.  Researchers have looked into alternatives to opioid-based medications, finding that a combination of Ibuprofen and Acetaminophen may be a viable solution.  Read on to learn more.


Medications are a necessary part of pain management, especially after common procedures such as molar extractions.  But with an increasing awareness of opioid abuse, dentists are hesitant to prescribe these powerful painkillers and have been searching for more manageable alternatives.  Researchers have found that in the proper dosage, the combination of ibuprofen and acetaminophen can provide an adequate replacement for opioids with significantly less side effects and no risk of dependency1.


Researchers looked at quantitative evidence-based reviews from the Cochrane Collaboration to study numerous patients who were prescribed different combinations of pain medication.  They found significant evidence to suggest that ibuprofen and acetaminophen can provide a powerful combination.


The factors involved in the study included the level of pain reduction and potential side effects.  When used alone, either medication provided only adequate pain management.  However, when used in tandem, these medications seemed to perform at a level that is almost comparable to opioid based medications.  And while opioids are more effective at treating pain in the short term, their numerous  side effects should give dental practitioners pause.


Because of their inherent dangers, opioids can only be attained with a prescription from a medical professional.  This does allow for a certain level of control over a patient’s intake, but the risk of overdose is still very real.  Furthermore, they can create feelings of happiness and euphoria, which may encourage a patient to become dependent for reasons unrelated to their dental procedure2.


In conclusion, researchers believe that a combination of acetaminophen and ibuprofen should be enough to manage pain and reduce inflammation in most cases.  Patients should be made to understand that even these medications should only be taken at the recommended dosage to avoid unwanted side effects.  Opioids should be avoided in all but the most serious of cases.  If opioids are a necessity, patients should be thoroughly educated about the accompanying risks.



  1. Moore, Paul, and Elliot hersh. “Combining Ibuprofen and Acetaminophen for Acute Pain Management after Third-Molar Extractions: Translating Clinical Research to Dental Practice.” Journal of the American Dental Association (1939), U.S. National Library of Medicine, Aug. 2013,
  2. “Opioids & Dental Pain.” National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services,

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Article Title: Using Ibuprofen and Acetaminophen For Pain Management

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