Palliative treatment of dental pain is usually done on an emergency basis, because by definition, this is easing symptoms without curing the underlying condition.  Dentists, especially emergency dentists, understand that having any kind of health emergency can be very stressful, and even more so when pain is involved.  Unfortunately, dental pain almost never resolves on its own and will usually continue to get worse over time.  Palliative treatment to alleviate pain may need to be administered prior to a dental visit to correct the problem.

These are some examples of palliative pain treatment:

  • Administering local anesthetic to temporarily relieve pain.
  • Prescribing pain medication prior to a dental visit.
  • Removal of floss or food impaction that has caused gingival irritation.
  • Applying desensitizing medicament to an exposed root surface.
  • Smoothing of a sharp edge on a broken tooth or restoration.
  • Placing a temporary filling in a broken tooth.
  • Opening an abscessed tooth to relieve pain.
  • Incising an abscess.
  • Adjusting occlusion on a tooth with Cracked Tooth Syndrome.
  • Cleaning inflamed tissue around a partially erupted wisdom tooth.
  • Removing only some of the decay in a very deep painful cavity, and placing a temporary filling.
  • Applying topical medication to an intraoral burn or canker sore.

Perhaps seen more commonly with the elderly, any kind of pain or discomfort can have a huge negative impact on the patient’s psychology, and even the slightest amount of discomfort can make one think of big problems.  Along with treatment of pain, psychosocial counselling may be needed.  Ageing not only causes changes in the body but it does so in the mouth as well. These changes can lead to oral disease, discomfort and poor appearance, making older people susceptible to a wide array of discomfort and psychological trauma.  The function of the oral cavity is essential to the patient’s ability to thrive, and dentists can play a significant role in the care of geriatric patients by providing total comfort and care of the oral cavity.

Various levels of pain are commonly experienced when a dental problem surfaces. Due to this fact, pain management is an important goal for all dentists and patients.   Non-narcotic pain medication is preferred for relief of a toothache or pain following dental treatment, such as:

  • Ibuprofen (Advil, Nuprin, Motrin)
  • Acetaminophen (Tylenol)
  • Asprin
  • Corticosteroids, anti-inflammatory (Orabase-HCA, Oracort, Oralone)

For severe pain, a narcotic pain reliever like codeine or hydrocodone (Vicodin) may be prescribed.  Codeine formulations usually include acetaminophen for increased efficacy, for example, Vicoprofen and Tylenol #3.

Even though your dentist will provide information to you about any medication that may be prescribed, make sure you fully understand the reasons for taking a medication and inform your dentist of any health conditions you have.

If you are interested in palliative treatment of dental pain in Costa Rica, fill out the “Find a Dentist” form on this page.  One of our patient advocates will reply to your needs.