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  • Summary Review
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The use of anti-inflammatory drugs to prevent bleaching-induced tooth sensitivity is ineffective and unnecessary


Data sources The authors searched Medline via PubMed, Scopus, Web of Science, the Cochrane Library and for published and unpublished clinical trials. Only randomised clinical trials, with either a parallel or crossover design, reporting the tooth sensitivity of participants undergoing in-office dental bleaching and comparing pain frequency and severity with oral premedication of a non-steroidal or other anti-inflammatory drug compared with a placebo were used in the review. Studies that evaluated the topical administration of drugs or desensitising agents were not reviewed.

Study selection In total,5,050 randomised clinical studies were screened and 11 studies were included in the various meta-analyses. Nine studies examined the effect of pre-emptive analgesics on the risk of sensitivity and ten studies evaluated the effect of drugs on the severity of sensitivity; seven of these studies were assessed as having a low risk of bias.

Data extraction and synthesis This systematic review and meta-analysis was conducted a priori and registered at the International Prospective Register of Systematic Reviews. There were two reviewers who extracted data from the study tables and independently performed quality assessments of the selected trials using the Office of Health Assessment and Translation risk of bias rating tool for human and animal studies. Risk ratios were calculated for the dichotomous sensitivity risk data and mean difference for measures of sensitivity intensity.

Results The authors found no effect of the drugs on the risk of sensitivity. Using a visual analogue scale, the authors identified a small but clinically insignificant reduction in the level of sensitivity in the drug-treated group evaluated up to one hour after bleaching. This was not observed when a numerical rating scale was used to measure pain intensity. For the 24-hour pain data, the authors did not find any significant intensity difference between groups. Mean pain intensity scores were generally low in both experimental groups in all randomised controlled trials reviewed. Based on a visual inspection of the funnel plots of all outcomes, the authors concluded that there was no publication bias.

Conclusions The data did not support the pre-emptive use of anti-inflammatory drugs in preventing or reducing the intensity of pain caused by in-office tooth bleaching.

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Markowitz, K., Strickland, M. The use of anti-inflammatory drugs to prevent bleaching-induced tooth sensitivity is ineffective and unnecessary. Evid Based Dent 21, 130–131 (2020).

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