The purpose of this study was to investigate the effectiveness of preemptive analgesia with nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) in third-molar surgery. A PubMed literature search was conducted for articles restricted to the English language using the following terms (DeCS/MeSH) or combinations: analgesia, third molar, and preemptive. From a total of 704 articles, 6 (n = 420 subjects) were selected. All studies presented a low risk of bias (Cochrane criteria) but exhibited high heterogeneity of methods. Two studies were excluded from the meta-analysis because they did not have adequate numeric values (dichotomous data) for the calculations. Preemptive analgesia showed no significant benefit (n = 298, P = .2227, odds ratio: 2.30, 0.60–8.73) in reducing postoperative pain after removal of lower impacted third molars. However, there was a probable direct relationship between the effectiveness of NSAIDs in preemptive analgesia for removal of third molars and its selectivity for the cyclooxygenase-2 (COX-2). Preemptive analgesia did not have a significant effect in reducing postoperative pain after removal of lower impacted third molars. More homogeneous and well-delineated clinical studies are necessary to determine a possible association between NSAIDs' selectivity for COX-2 and treatment effectiveness.

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