What medications are used during a dental emergency?

It depends on the emergency or urgency.

Often no medications are necessary other than local anesthesia to numb the problem area. Local anesthesia can be used for extractions, fillings, dealing with infected gum tissue, etc. Once treatment is provided one of variety of “pain medications” may be advised or prescribed, depending on the type and level of pain. Often Tylenol, aspirin or Motrin will be sufficient to deal with the pain, after appropriate dental care is provided.

If there is an infection, antibiotics may be prescribed to help control the infection and keep it from spreading.

There are times when IV sedation, Nitrous oxide analgesia or general anesthesia may be indicated or desired by the patient. Medications used for sedation or general anesthesia may vary depending on anticipated time of treatment, your health, and treatment to be performed.

Of course, it is important to inform your dentist of all your medications and illnesses.
During an emergency, dentists usually have the following medications on-hand:
  • Oxygen, which is actually considered a treatment, can help with breathing
  • Epinephrine (synthetic adrenaline), which is used for allergic reactions, helps you to breathe better and helps to stop bleeding
  • Diphenhydramine, otherwise known as Benadryl®, can help with allergic reactions
  • Nitroglycerin helps relieve chest pain by relaxing blood vessels and encouraging blood flow
  • Glucose is given to people with diabetes in the case of a glucose emergency
  • Aspirin can prevent further damage if a person is suspected of having a heart attack during the dental emergency
  • Emergency pain medication, like morphine, is generally used only in the case of suspected heart attack or severe chest pain
  • Anesthetics, like lidocaine or bupivacaine, or even nitrous oxide gas, are used for sedation

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.