Dental Pain Isn’t the End Of The World

giraffe-tongueI just had a tooth pulled.  It was a simple extraction: took about 2 minutes (really), including the cleanup of the socket (eeeeew!).  Never felt a thing.  

Afterward the dentist gave me all the standard instructions, including his recommendations for analgesics if needed, and said if I needed something stronger to give him a call.  I explained that I’m in recovery and don’t do drugs, but that I’d gotten through abscesses before with nothing but ibuprofen and I was sure I’d be okay.

I couldn’t help thinking about how I might have reacted to such an offer when I started in sobriety.  As it happened, my dentist at that time had a number of years in recovery himself so the question never came up.  I like to think I would have said the same thing, but who knows?  It’s a sobering thing to consider (pun intended).

I thought back, as well, to another experience I had a few years ago with a highly recommended and qualified oral surgeon.  I explained to him in detail that I would not under any circumstances take any mood-altering painkillers.  He told me he understood, complimented me for my determination to remain sober, and then after the surgery his assistant handed me a prescription for 10 Vicodin “in case I needed something.”  (Insert slow burn here!!)

They don’t always listen, and they don’t always get it when they seem to be listening.  Dentists are not trained in pharmaceutics or addiction and like most folks who aren’t in recovery, they mean well but just don’t understand.

We addicts are predisposed to believe that it’s not okay not to feel okay.  There are many powerful analgesics that won’t trigger an addict and that will work for tooth extractions among other things.  That’s what got us into our addictions to start with: wanting to feel different, better.  But the fact is, a little pain won’t hurt, and with 800 mg of ibuprofen (generic Advil) in you any remaining dental pain (and most others) can be managed without narcotic painkillers.

I prefer acetaminophen (generic Tylenol — paracetamol or APAP for you folks across the pond) for oral surgery because it doesn’t affect clotting, but ibuprofen will get the job done sometimes when acetaminophen won’t, and even plain old aspirin will usually get the job done.  There are prescription meds like Toradol, but most of them have the same effects on clotting and stomach upset as ibuprofen and aspirin.  Keep in mind that all drugs, whether prescription, over the counter or so-called “natural” remedies have side effects.  Do your research. is a good place to start.  Avoid the forums and chats; you want facts, not opinions and anecdotal evidence.

We have to be responsible for our own sobriety.  No one else can do it for us.  

Leave a Reply

Please log in using one of these methods to post your comment: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.