Most patients presenting to dentists with pain have some form of acute pain. This can usually, and predictably, be managed by removing the cause of the problem through a thorough diagnosis and effective dental treatment. However, some pain may remain for a short period of time after treatment. It is essential that dentists ascertain whether the patients have been taking analgesics or other medications to help manage their pain. The prescription of any analgesia after treatment should be done carefully to ensure minimisation of potential adverse effects, interactions and overdoses particularly in patients who have already been self-medicating to obtain pain relief. Some patients may use extra medications without the dentist's knowledge so all patients should be informed and educated about safe drug use and doses. If there is any doubt, patients should adhere to the dosage stated on the packet and take the drug in accordance with the manufacturer's instructions, unless the prescribing doctor advises otherwise.

Michael McCullough

Chair, Therapeutics Committee, Australian Dental Association