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Pain After Wisdom Teeth Removal | United Concordia

Dealing with Pain after Wisdom Teeth Removal

Opioid prescriptions: to fill or not to fill?

Wisdom Teeth pain and opioids


Wisdom teeth removal is usually done quickly in the dentist’s office. Though it involves bone surgery, it’s fairly routine.

Your teen may have dissolvable stitches and gauze packed in the surgery site. And unless there are complications, most kids don’t have much pain at all afterwards. Any tenderness or stiff jaw muscles should only last a few days.

Over-the-counter medications can ease your teen’s discomfort. But your dentist may have prescribed a strong opioid pain medicine, too. Before you fill it, here’s important safety information to consider.


Wise wisdom teeth pain relief tips

  • Try OTCs first
    Over-the-counter medications like Advil and Tylenol are safer and more effective. Research shows that a combination of both provides better wisdom teeth pain relief than prescription narcotics.1 Plus, ibuprofen is an anti-inflammatory, so it also reduces swelling.

  • Consider the risk of opioids
    Opioids are very powerful and can be addictive, especially among teenagers. High-schoolers who take prescription opioid painkillers are 33% more likely to abuse opioids later in life. And 37% of seniors who take opioids for fun start with their leftover pills.

  • Fill a limited prescription
    Soreness should only last a day or two, so you don’t need a 30-day supply of opioids. When your dentist writes the prescription, explain you’d prefer just a few pills. And make sure your teen takes them exactly as prescribed.

  • Don’t keep leftover opioids
    Over half of opioids prescribed for pain relief aren’t used.2 And most people store them in the medicine cabinet. But leftover opioids can tempt friends or siblings, so don’t keep them within easy reach – 70% of teens who abuse drugs get them from home.

  • Dispose of pills properly
    The FDA recommends flushing unused opioids down the toilet immediately — unless there’s a drug-take back program in your community. Some pharmacies offer disposal solutions, so ask your pharmacist when you pick up the prescription.


Learn more:

Prescription pain medication: is it worth it?

United Concordia educates dentists on opioid alternatives

Wisdom teeth FAQs


1. Moore, Paul A. & Hersh, Elliot V. (2013). Combining ibuprofen and acetaminophen for acute pain management after third-molar extractions. The Journal of the American Dental Association, Volume 144, (Issue 8). Pages 898-908.
2. Rhodes, Karin V. (2016). “Unused opioid analgesics and drug disposal following outpatient dental surgery: A randomized controlled trial.” Drug and Alcohol Dependence Journal, Volume 168. Pages 328-334.