Simple Steps To Better Dental Health
space placeholder
Featuring consumer information from Columbia School of Dental & Oral Surgery
Oral Health Made Simple: Your Prescription For Knowledge
Small BoxAll About Cavities
Small BoxBrushing and Flossing
Small BoxFluoride
Small BoxMouth-Healthy Eating
Small BoxSealants
Small BoxTaking Care of Your Teeth
Small BoxTobacco
Small BoxYour Dental Visit
Small BoxMORE
Small BoxBad Breath
Small BoxCavities
Small BoxCold Sores
Small BoxDry Mouth
Small BoxImpacted Tooth
Small BoxSensitive Teeth
Small BoxTMJ
Small BoxTooth Discoloration
Small BoxMORE
Small BoxCrowns
Small BoxDentures
Small BoxFillings: The Basics
Small BoxGum Surgery
Small BoxImplants
Small BoxRoot Canal Treatment
Small BoxScaling and Root Planing
Small BoxWhitening
Small BoxMORE
Small BoxControlling Pain
Small BoxCosmetic Dentistry
Small BoxEmergencies
Small BoxFill, Repair, Replace
Small BoxKids And Teens
Small BoxOral Health and Your Body
Small BoxOrthodontics
Small BoxPeriodontics
Small BoxSeniors
Small BoxMORE
Step 1 Prevent ProblemsSimplestepsPrevent Problems
Step 2 Understand ConditionsSimplestepsUnderstand Conditions
Step 3 Explore TreatmentsSimplestepsExplore Treatments

go to Interactive Tools go to Parents' Guide go to Dental Drugs go to Ask The Dentist

graphic for Dental News showing newspaper

Measuring Tricky for Kids' Pain-Relief Medicines
February 12, 2014

By Nancy Volkers
InteliHealth News Service

INTELIHEALTH - Some measuring devices for children's liquid pain medicines are more likely to result in overdoses, says a study.

The study focused on over-the-counter pain-relief medicines for children. People in the study were visiting dental offices in the greater Memphis area or the children's dental clinic at the University of Tennessee.

More than one-third of children report mouth pain after routine dental procedures, such as crown placement. Most pain is managed with over-the-counter drugs. These include ibuprofen and acetaminophen.

One hundred twenty adult-child pairs were in the study. The adults answered questions about how they measured liquid medicines, as well as information about their children. They also were asked to measure 5 milliliters (1 teaspoon) of liquid using 4 measuring devices:

  • An oral syringe
  • A cylindrical spoon (one with a hollow handle that has marks for measuring)
  • A small measuring cup with clear, raised markings
  • A small measuring cup with printed black markings

About 84% of adults were mothers, 8% were fathers and 8% were other legal guardians. African-Americans made up 59% of the adults. Another 36% were white and 4% were other races or ethnicities. About 45% had at least some college education.

There were no differences in measurement errors linked with:

  • Type of caregiver (mother, father or other legal guardian)
  • Race or ethnicity
  • Education level
  • Type of insurance

Most parents reported using a small measuring cup to measure doses. These cups generally come with liquid medicines and can be stored on top of the bottle. The study found that doses measured in these cups were likely to be too high. More than 50% of the measured doses in the cups with clear markings were considered overdoses. So were nearly 40% of the doses in the cups with black markings.

The oral syringe and the cylindrical spoon provided better results: More than 95% of measurements were accurate. The Joint Commission is an independent group that certifies health care programs in the United States. It recommends the oral syringe for measuring children's oral medicines. However, only 19% of adults in the study said they used an oral syringe at home. Those who did not use it said that oral syringes were used only to measure doses for infants, not older children.

Nearly 7% of people in the study said they used a household spoon to measure oral medicine. Household spoons differ in size. Therefore, they are not considered an acceptable measuring device.

Other studies have found that dosing errors for children's pain-relief medicines can happen more than 50% of the time. This is the first study to focus on pain-relief medicines given after dental procedures.

The authors recommend that dentists talk with a parent or caregiver about:

  • Which pain medicines should be used
  • What the dose should be
  • How to measure the dose using an oral syringe or a cylindrical spoon

The study appears in the February issue of the Journal of the American Dental Association.

printer friendly format option iconPrinter-friendly version     
printer friendly format option iconPrinter-friendly version
Powered by Aetna Dental Plans

© 2002-2016 Aetna, Inc. All rights reserved. All information is intended for your general knowledge only and is not a substitute for medical advice or treatment for specific medical conditions. You should seek prompt medical care for any specific health issues and consult your physician before starting a new fitness regimen. Use of this online service is subject to the disclaimer and the terms and conditions. External website links provided on this site are meant for convenience and for informational purposes only; they do not constitute an endorsement. These external links open in a different window.