New Guidelines for Acute Dental Pain Management Focus on NSAIDs Over Opioids

New clinical practice guidelines recommend nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) as the first-line treatment for acute dental pain, emphasizing patient safety and reducing reliance on opioids

  • NSAIDs recommended over opioids for acute dental pain management.
  • Guidelines stress shared decision-making and caution with opioid prescriptions.
  • Initiative aims to improve patient outcomes and reduce opioid-related risks in dental care.

A collaborative effort between the American Dental Association (ADA), the University of Pittsburgh School of Dental Medicine, and the Center for Integrative Global Oral Health at the University of Pennsylvania School of Dental Medicine has resulted in new clinical practice guidelines for managing acute dental pain. Published in The Journal of the American Dental Association, the guidelines recommend nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) as the first-line treatment for adults and adolescents aged 12 or older, either alone or in combination with acetaminophen.

In addition to advocating for NSAIDs over opioids, the guidelines provide recommendations for appropriate opioid prescribing in limited circumstances. Clinicians are advised to avoid unnecessary opioid prescriptions, engage patients in shared decision-making, and exercise caution when prescribing opioids to adolescents and young adults. The guideline emphasizes patient education on proper opioid storage and disposal, along with consideration of risk factors for opioid misuse and adverse events.

This initiative, supported by a grant from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA), aims to improve patient treatment and outcomes while addressing concerns about opioid addiction, overdose, and diversion. The guidelines represent a significant step forward in evidence-based dental care and underscore the importance of considering alternative pain management strategies to minimize reliance on opioids in dental practice.