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Can You Use Advil Dual Action For a Toothache?

Using Advil Dual Action can effectively kill a tooth nerve because it is a legitimate painkiller but unfortunately the effects are temporary. We will explain how it alleviates your toothache and also its shortfalls in providing a permanent solution.


Advil dual action - ibuprofen with acetaminophen
Advil dual action - ibuprofen with acetaminophen

However it is still a wonderful a wonderful at home remedy to at least reduce your tooth pain temporarily until you can see a dentist.


Table of contents:


Does Advil Dual Action alleviate tooth pain?

Yes, Advil Dual Action can alleviate your toothache because it contains the proven painkillers, ibuprofen (NSAID) and acetaminophen. Taking it will temporarily reduce the tooth nerve pain that you're having, at least until its effects wear off.


advil dual action - label uses directions warnings
advil dual action - label uses directions warnings

This particular medication is unique in that the formulation combines two different painkillers into one. Normally, they're sold and taken separately on their own.

  • Advil typically only contains ibuprofen.

  • Tylenol typically only contains acetaminophen.


Ibuprofen effects:

  • Anti-inflammatory. Decreases swelling, redness, and inflammation.

  • Analgesic. Can block pain signals, thus numb your body to pain.

  • Anti-pyretic. Reduces fevers.


Acetaminophen effects:

  • Analgesic

  • Anti-pyretic

  • It is NOT anti-inflammatory, which is why it's not a NSAID (non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drug).


In terms of potency, Advil dual action is actually more potent than taking ibuprofen or acetaminophen alone since it combines two of them together.


Studies have shown that taking a ibuprofen with acetaminophen together produces greater pain relief than taking them individually. It is effective enough to be used to manage pain after wisdom teeth removal. The chart below describes the results.


acetaminophen with ibuprofen pain relief chart
Credit: Paul A. Moore, DMD, PhD, MPH; Hersh Elliot V., DMD, MS, PhD

Results of study:

  • Both ibuprofen and acetaminophen were effective in reducing pain.

  • However, the combination of both of them produced a greater analgesic effect.


Mechanism of analgesia

The pain relief that you get from taking Advil Dual Action comes from two different mechanisms, one from ibuprofen and the other from acetaminophen. They work differently and block pain differently too, which explains why there is greater pain alleviation.


How ibuprofen blocks pain:

  • Inhibits the activity of cyclogenase enzyme (COX).

  • That reduces the formation of prostaglandins, which is akin to an on-off switch for pain control.



How acetaminophen blocks pain:

  • Inhibits the activity of COX pathway in a different manner than a NSAID.

  • The mechanism of action is still unclear.

  • Affects COX pathways in CNS (central nervous system) but not PSN (peripheral nervous system).


When it starts working

After taking Advil Dual Action, you should feel pain relief within 20-30 minutes.

  • The ibuprofen component takes 20-30 minutes for it to start working.

  • The acetaminophen component may take up to an hour for it to show effects.

Overall, you can expect to feel the full analgesic effect after about an hour or so.


How long it lasts

The analgesic effect should last for about 8 hours according to the label on the box. The instructions say to take it every 8 hours in order to maintain the pain relief. The reason you need to take another dose is because the previous dose has worn off.


How to use Advil Dual Action for a toothache

This pain medication conveniently comes in a pill form and you simply take it like any other medication. It will help all types of toothaches, including pain coming from underneath a crown.


Directions:

  1. Take two tablets by mouth.

  2. Drink a full glass of water.

  3. Repeat every 8 hours as needed.

  4. Do not exceed 6 tablets within 24 hours.


advil dual action opened bottle

The instructions specifically say to NOT take more than 6 tablets per 24 hours. Please remember that there are two painkillers in each of those capsules so you must be extra careful about the dosing.


Caution: If you're considering taking more than the recommended, you MUST consult with your dentist or physician prior to doing so.


Disadvantages of Advil Dual Action

Despite its wonderful analgesic effects, there are 3 disadvantages to using it for a toothache.

  • Temporarily relieves the toothache. It's analgesic effect only lasts 8 hours before you need to take another dose.

  • Increased risk of liver damage. A side effect of long term acetaminophen use is potential liver damage.

  • Increased risk of GI bleeding. Long term use of ibuprofen may result in GI bleeding. If you're prone to stomach ulcers, this may not be the right medication for you.


advil dual action - drug facts box label


Permanent treatment requires dentist

The best that at home treatments (including advil dual action) can do for your toothache is temporarily alleviate it. That means the pain will come back but if you want to permanently make it get rid of it you should see a dentist because they can treat the source.


How your dentist treats the source of the pain:

  • Dental fillings - placing a composite restoration can repair and restore damaged tooth structure. This will address pain and discomfort coming from broken teeth or cavities.

  • Root canals - this endodontic procedure will physically remove the tooth nerve, thus permanently get rid of your pain.

  • Extractions - this dental procedure will remove the entire tooth from your mouth which contains the tooth nerve in it.


All of these treatments cannot be performed at home and are certainly not DIY.


Takeaway

Yes, Advil dual action can kill a tooth nerve but only temporarily since the analgesia wears off after a while. The reason is because it blocks the pain signals but it does nothing to treat the source of your toothache.


The only way to permanently treat the source is by seeking professional help from a dentist. They can get you out of pain as well as permanently get rid of the source of your tooth pain.


Nonetheless, it is still one of the best toothache home remedies which you can use to at least reduce your discomfort while waiting for a dentist. Most of the other ones like thyme oil or salt water rinsing pale in comparison to its effects.


Although if you're from the south, a similar competing product that has similar efficacy would be BC powder. BC powder uses aspirin with acetaminophen instead of ibuprofen with acetaminophen. Both of these products still stand head and shoulders above the rest of the at home remedies.

David Chen 200 x 200.jpg

About the author: Dr David Chen, DDS

Hello, I'm Dr Chen and I'm an actively practicing dentist in Long Island City, NY. I graduated from Columbia University College of Dental Medicine in 2016 but prior to going to dental school I was already working in the dental field. It's been more than a decade since I first got to know dentistry and let me tell you, time flies by quickly. Since then I've developed a fondness for writing, which is how this all got started!

Association Memberships:

Medical Disclaimer:

This blog is purely meant for information purposes and should not be used as medical advice. Each situation in your mouth is unique and complex. It is not possible to give advice nor diagnose any oral conditions based on text nor virtual consultations. The best thing to do is to go in person to see your dentist for an examination and consultation so that you can receive the best care possible.

The purpose of all of this oral health information is to encourage you to see your dentist and to inform you of what you may expect during your visit. Due to the unfortunate nature of dentistry, there isn't really any true home remedies that will get rid of dental problems. Roughly 99.99% of them require in-person intervention by a healthcare professional.

Hint: That is the reason why you can't eliminate seeing dentists in your life!

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