Document Type


Publication Title

Journal of the American Dental Association


Background. A panel convened by the American Dental Association Science and Research Institute, the University of Pittsburgh, and the University of Pennsylvania conducted systematic reviews and meta-analyses and formulated evidence-based recommendations for the pharmacologic management of acute dental pain after simple and surgical tooth extraction(s) and for the temporary management (ie, definitive dental treatment not immediately available) of toothache associated with pulp and periapical diseases in adolescents, adults, and older adults.

Types of Studies Reviewed. The panel conducted 4 systematic reviews to determine the effect of opioid and nonopioid analgesics, local anesthetics, corticosteroids, and topical anesthetics on acute dental pain. The panel used the Grading of Recommendations, Assessment, Development and Evaluation approach to assess the certainty of the evidence and the Grading of Recommendations, Assessment, Development and Evaluation Evidence-to-Decision Framework to formulate recommendations.

Results. The panel formulated recommendations and good practice statements using the best available evidence. There is a beneficial net balance favoring the use of nonopioid medications compared with opioid medications. In particular, nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs alone or in combination with acetaminophen likely provide superior pain relief with a more favorable safety profile than opioids.

Conclusions and Practical Implications. Nonopioid medications are first-line therapy for managing acute dental pain after tooth extraction(s) and the temporary management of toothache. The use of opioids should be reserved for clinical situations when the first-line therapy is insufficient to reduce pain or there is contraindication of nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs. Clinicians should avoid the routine use of just-in-case prescribing of opioids and should exert extreme caution when prescribing opioids to adolescents and young adults.



Publication Date



Clinical practice guideline, acute dental pain, tooth extractions, toothache, analgesics, opioids