Analgesic medications are typically prescribed for post operative pain control after an oral surgery procedure. However, the use of narcotic based pain medications have become an increasing concern.
Consider the only FDA approved non-narcotic and non-addictive alternative, liposomal bupivacaine, a.k.a, Exparel. This is a dental injection of local anesthetic (just like a typical dental numbing shot) but lasts up to three days!
The idea behind liposomal bupivacaine is the following:
- Pain caused by oral surgery (extraction of teeth) is at its worst during the first 48 hours after the procedure. From 48 to 72 hours, the post operative pain begins to diminish.
- In order to provide relief of pain, narcotic based medications in combination with Tylenol or NSAIDs are typically prescribed.
- The dilemma is that narcotic drugs like Percocet, Norco, and Vicodin- while effective against pain- are addictive. In particular, younger patients (teens and young adults) are even more susceptible. This group is still undergoing neurologic development (maturation of their central nervous system). Exposure to narcotics during neurologic development, known as neural pruning, increases the risk of future addiction.
- Hence, liposomal bupivacaine solves the two major problems stated above. 1) Use of Exparel eliminates post operative pain for the most crucial timeframe, the first 72 hours. 2) It is NOT addictive and entirely safe.
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