Predicting Postoperative Dental Pain

It’s reasonable to assume that most major dental procedures will be accompanied by at least some pain or discomfort. In fact, before having dental work done, most patients want to know how much pain they should plan to experience. While managing pain with medication and sedation has never been easier or as safe, it has always been challenging to determine just how much discomfort one patient may feel over the next. Until now. According to a recent Dentistry Today article, pain levels after treatment can possibly be predicted by analyzing pain before hand.

The study came out of the Universitat Internacional de Catalunya in Barcelona, Spain, where 270 patients with pulpal pathology were scheduled for routine endodontic treatment to be performed in a single visit. Participants completed a questionnaire that recorded basic information, like sex, age, type of tooth, and pulp diagnosis. Using a 10-cm visual analogue scale (VAS), they also rated their preoperative and postoperative pain, at 4, 8, 16, 24, 48, and 72 hours after treatment. Data analysis found that the average pain level after treatment was 2.58 +/- 2.80 on a VAS between zero and 10. Variables associated with higher preoperative pain, such as gender or if treatment was performed on the mandible or molar, were also considered and led to a higher value for pain.

The research team was able to conclude that the level of preoperative pain is the most influential variable on postoperative pain. So, if you’re in quite a bit of pain before treatment, you will likely experience more pain afterwards. But the good news is that the after-pain should only be temporary. And as mentioned above, developments in medication and sedation allow for an extremely effective pain management plan to be in place, minimizing dental pain both before and after treatment.

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