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Anesth Prog. 1997 Fall;44(4):119-26.

The efficacy of nonopioid analgesics for postoperative dental pain: a meta-analysis.

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Faculty of Dentistry, University of Toronto, Ontario, Canada.


The evidence for the efficacy of nonopioid analgesics in the dental pain model was examined by conducting a meta-analysis. Studies were obtained by searching the literature from August 1996 back to 1975 using the terms pain, analgesics, and dentistry. This led to the review of 294 articles, of which 33 studies met the inclusion criteria. Pain scale results were transformed into a common percent scale and converted to N-weighted means with differences in efficacy considered significant using a 95% confidence interval. Collectively, therapeutic doses of the nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) commonly used in dentistry were significantly more efficacious than the combination of acetaminophen (600 or 650 mg) with codeine (60 mg). Similarly, specific doses of each of diflunisal, flurbiprofen, ibuprofen, and ketorolac were significantly more efficacious than the commonly used acetaminophen-codeine combination. These quantitative results show that particular NSAIDs may be more efficacious than the acetaminophen-codeine combination for relief of postoperative dental pain.

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