Effect of ibuprofen on masking endodontic diagnosis

Jason K. Read, Scott B. McClanahan, Asma A. Khan, Scott Lunos, Walter R. Bowles

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

20 Scopus citations


Introduction An accurate diagnosis is of upmost importance before initiating endodontic treatment; yet, there are occasions when the practitioner cannot reproduce the patient's chief complaint because the patient has become asymptomatic. Ibuprofen taken beforehand may "mask" or eliminate the patient's symptoms. In fact, 64%-83% of patients with dental pain take analgesics before seeing a dentist. The purpose of this study was to examine the possible "masking" effect of ibuprofen on endodontic diagnostic tests. Methods Forty-two patients with endodontic pain underwent testing (cold, percussion, palpation, and bite force measurement) and then received either placebo or 800 mg ibuprofen. Both patients and operators were blinded to the medication received. One hour later, diagnostic testing was repeated and compared with pretreatment testing. Results Ibuprofen affected testing values for vital teeth by masking palpation 40%, percussion 25%, and cold 25% on affected teeth with symptomatic irreversible pulpitis and symptomatic apical periodontitis. There was no observed masking effect in the placebo group on palpation, percussion, or cold values. When nonvital teeth were included, the masking effect of ibuprofen was decreased. However, little masking occurred with the bite force measurement differences. Conclusions Analgesics taken before the dental appointment can affect endodontic diagnostic testing results. Bite force measurements can assist in identifying the offending tooth in cases in which analgesics "mask" the endodontic diagnosis.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1058-1062
Number of pages5
JournalJournal of endodontics
Issue number8
StatePublished - Aug 2014
Externally publishedYes


  • Analgesic
  • apical periodontitis
  • bite force transducer irreversible
  • pulpitis

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Dentistry


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