When you visit your dentist for treatment, they can prescribe a range of drugs to manage dental pain, carry out treatment safely and support the healing process. As a patient, it's important you understand the common types of drugs used in dentistry, as this will enable you to make informed decisions about your treatment when a dentist recommends a drug as part of your care plan. Here's an overview of the types of drugs commonly used by dentists:
Pain And Anxiety
Your dentist can use a local anaesthetic to numb the area of your mouth they are working on, and if you experience anxiety when you visit the dentist for treatment, they may recommend intravenous sedation or mild sedation using nitrous oxide, which you breathe in through an oxygen mask. You may also be prescribed a mild oral sedative to take at home before you arrive for your dental appointment, but you won't be able to drive to your appointment and should have someone accompany you if you opt for this approach.
After your treatment, your dentist can prescribe painkillers and topical anaesthetics, such as xylocaine and anbesol, which can be applied to the treated area to keep it numb. Topical anaesthetics may also be recommended if you use dental appliances, such as dentures or braces, that cause mild gum irritation.
Corticosteroids, such as prednisolone, can be prescribed to reduce inflammation associated with gum disease or abscesses. Your dentist can administer a corticosteroid injection into the affected area or prescribe a course of oral steroids for you to take at home in order to encourage quicker healing. Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatories can also be prescribed if you have a mild fever due to a dental infection or toothache that's causing the surrounding gum tissue to become inflamed.
Plaque, Gingivitis And Decay
There are a number of over-the-counter products available to support your oral hygiene routine, but some patients need stronger products to keep plaque, gingivitis and decay at bay. There can be a number of reasons for requiring prescription strength products to keep your teeth and gums healthy, such as enamel damage, diabetes, long-term use of certain antibiotics, being immunosuppressed, swallowing disorders and having gastric reflux.
Your dentist may prescribe a mouth rinse containing chlorhexidine, which is a dental antibiotic that's used to control gingivitis and prevent plaque building up along your gum line. An antiseptic rinse may also be recommended for those prone to plaque build-up, which leads to tooth decay. These products change the pH level in your mouth to discourage bacteria and reduce your risk of developing a dental infection.
Your dentist will discuss with you the drugs they would like to use as part of your treatment plan, but if you're unclear about anything, they will be happy to answer your questions. Regular dental check-ups can reduce the need for complex dental treatment by allowing your dentist to spot and treat problems early, so if you're overdue a check-up, schedule an appointment as soon as possible.