After Oral Surgery: How to Keep Pain in Check Without Opiates

Pain shouldn’t be a major part of your oral surgery recovery. 

We’ve found that good pain control speeds recovery and helps patients avoid complications. It also makes the surgery experience more pleasant and less dread-inducing. Managing your pain is our priority and we seek to find pain control solutions that are both safe and effective. 

For many years, opioid pain medications were the standard recommendation after surgery. They work well, but they are also highly addictive. And then there are the side effects. These medications can cause nausea, vomiting, dizziness, and sedation. 

Understandably, many of our patients want to avoid opiate medications after oral surgery. Let’s explore your other options for a comfortable recovery after tooth extraction, jaw surgery, or dental implant placement. 


You’ve got the solution to post-surgical swelling and pain waiting in your freezer. Ice is a wonderful tool for enhancing comfort and reducing swelling after dental surgery. This treatment is most effective during the first two days post-surgery. 

Apply your ice pack to the face, never inside of the mouth, on the treated side in 20-minute intervals. After each interval, take a break from icing for at least an hour. You can safely use ice several times each day. Ice is usually used in conjunction with other pain control methods.

Over-the-Counter Medications

Over-the-counter medications work, and when used properly, can provide significant pain relief after oral surgery. 

NSAID (nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs), including ibuprofen and naproxen, are especially useful because of their inflammation-reducing benefits. These drugs help to control pain and inflammation in the mouth after your procedure. Acetaminophen can significantly decrease your perception of pain. We may recommend using multiple over-the-counter pain relievers together for maximal comfort after your dental surgery. Studies have found that a combination of ibuprofen and acetaminophen can control pain as effectively as an opioid with fewer side effects. 

Non-Narcotic Prescription Medication

When over-the-counter options aren’t strong enough, there are often prescription versions of these medications available at a higher dosage. For example, prescription-strength ibuprofen may be used after dental surgery to alleviate pain and discomfort. Also, anti-inflammatory medication can be used to reduce swelling, which will also contribute to your comfort as you heal. 


We are excited to offer a long-lasting non-narcotic solution to pain after oral surgery. Exparel is providing our patients with new pain control options, and our patients are loving this innovative solution to post-surgical discomfort. 

Exparel is:

  • Administered before surgery with a quick injection at the surgical site. 
  • Starts working immediately. 
  • Numbs the surgical site during surgery and for up to three days after treatment.
  • Is non-narcotic. 
  • Offers pain relief without the harsh side effects of an opiate. You will not experience nausea, vomiting, or constipation from Exparel use. 
  • Has no risk of addiction, dependency, or abuse. 

Exparel is very effective, and since it provides long-lasting results, it helps patients easily get through the most difficult part of recovery without opioid medications.  

Using Pain Medication Effectively- Tips for Making Sure Your Medication Does Its Best Job

  • Control Pain Before It Controls You- Pain is easier to manage before it becomes severe. Take your pain medications as directed, even if you’re not experiencing discomfort. 
  • Use as Directed– Pain medications are very safe when used properly, but take too much, and problems may occur. We’ll give you detailed information about the types of pain medications you can use and how much/often you should take. If your medication isn’t controlling your pain when used as directed, we need to know about it. 
  • Limit Opioid Use– We may recommend opioid medications for some patients after oral surgery. These medications are intended for short-term use only. Usually, after a day or two, pain can easily be controlled using over-the-counter or non-narcotic options. 

Recovery in comfort after your oral surgery with these tips from Hill Country Oral Surgery in Austin, TX. Call us to schedule your consultation: 512-327-7233.