Be 'Medicinewise': dentists

16 October, 2014

Australians should strive to 'Be Medicinewise', especially when it comes to using painkillers and analgesia to address dental pain.

That's the message the Australian Dental Association (ADA) wanted to enforce during Be Medicinewise Week (BMW, 13 – 19 October), a national awareness and education initiative run by NPS MedicineWise to encourage Australians to use their medicines safely and more effectively.

The theme for this year's BMW, now in its fourth year, was "Are your medicines helping or hindering?". The ADA's message was to echo Friday 17 October's message about painkillers and analgesia.

Taking on a toothache

"Nobody likes pain. Understandably, some people will take anything to avoid pain at any cost. Jumping straight away to painkillers and analgesics to address a toothache for example has potential dangers," said Dr Derek Lewis, from the ADA's Oral Health Committee.

Different pain relievers can contain different active ingredients and it's important for patients to know what these are and which one(s) they are taking, particularly if they are taking more than one medicine, said Dr Lewis. Many analgesic products also contain combinations of different drugs.

"Without the right knowledge, patients may inadvertently overdose themselves if they take several of these products simultaneously," he said.  

"Also, it is inappropriate to use one form of analgesic that has been prescribed for a specific type of pain (such as a broken arm) to address another kind of pain such as a toothache.

"Patients should therefore not save unused medications to address any other pain they experience that is not intended to be addressed by that specific analgesic."

BMW has information about the common painkillers and analgesics including Paracetamol, Ibuprofen and Aspirin.

"It's important to continue to Be MedicineWise even after a procedure such as a dental extraction. Patients must take their medications as prescribed by their dentists as what is prescribed will be more effective than combinations of paracetamol and codeine," Dr Lewis said.