A quick squirt eases pain

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Finally, justification for all those former smokers who believe they’re now addicted to nicotine replacement therapy. A study in the January 20 issue of the Journal of Oral and Maxillofacial Surgery has found that using nicotine nasal spray before wisdom tooth removal may reduce pain after the surgery.

Twenty patients were enrolled in the study. They needed all four wisdom teeth removed. They were randomly assigned to receive either nicotine nasal spray or a placebo spray and wisdom teeth were extracted on one side of the mouth. At the second extraction visit patients received the opposite spray; for example, if they had gotten nicotine spray for the first extractions, they now received placebo spray.

For five days after each visit, people used a phone system to submit information about their pain levels. They also reported on nausea levels and how much pain medicine they used.

People reported significantly less pain with the nicotine spray than with the placebo spray. But they did not use less pain medicine. They also did not report less nausea. There was a small increase in heart rate after the nicotine spray was used, but no differences in blood pressure. An increase in heart rate is a common side effect of nicotine nasal spray.

The study findings suggest that further investigation of nicotine spray is indicated to see if it can be used in routine clinical practice to reduce pain following dental surgery.

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