I visited the dentist today, just after I got off of work.

My mouth is now in so much pain, that if it remains, I don't know that I will be going to the office tomorrow.

I can work from home, and me and my teammates frequently do when we're feeling sick / under the weather. Our manager has other full time responsibilities, so no one can reach him immediately, only via email; When we feel too sick to come in, we just decide for ourselves and shoot an email out to the group.

My question is: Is it generally appropriate to take a day off of work, or work from home, due to pain, such as extreme soreness after visiting the dentist?

To clarify, I don't mean "Is it appropriate at this job or in this industry...", I'm wondering if this is considered an acceptable practice at any workplace.

In my scenario, I'll still be able to complete my work, it's just so painful that it's a distraction, and I won't be able to really speak to anyone directly, and would rather not be there in person.

  • Of course, it would be very common if you were experiencing significant pain after dental surgery that you may need time off to recover.
    – Jane S
    Mar 29, 2017 at 4:46
  • I think the answer is "yes" for pretty much all workplaces; though in your case it looks like company culture and informal practices play a significant role as well. Mar 29, 2017 at 7:33
  • I don't have time to write out a full answer right now, but vagueness is your friend. Don't bring up pain, just say something like "I need to take the day off/working at home to recover from a dental procedure/surgery". You needn't say it is because of pain and it's normal to give time off for recovery after a medical procedure.
    – Vality
    Mar 29, 2017 at 8:00
  • @Vality, why? How does avoiding a mention of the pain help? I would think just the opposite.
    – user45590
    Mar 29, 2017 at 8:49
  • Send the email. Tell everyone the problem and then work from home. I don't see a problem if you really are in pain.
    – Snowlockk
    Mar 29, 2017 at 9:22

5 Answers 5


It is absolutely appropriate to take a day off of work due to pain!

If you have a job that is possible to do from home, and if you know that the job has a precedent for allowing people to work from home, then by all means shoot your team a short email:

Hey all,

I'm feeling more pain than expected after the dentist trip yesterday. I'm going to work from home today while I recover. If you need anything, hit me up on slack/email/<whatever your company uses>.


  • 1
    Actually if the dentist fills out a form, then this is not even a day "off" (as in holiday or something) but a sickday.
    – TomTom
    May 22, 2018 at 11:25

Is it generally appropriate to take a day off of work, or work from home, due to pain, such as extreme soreness after visiting the dentist?


I have done so multiple times and it never was a problem. Even with dentist visits that should be painless and over before work, I have called in to report that it took way longer and was more painful then expected and I need the rest of the day off.

Be careful with the "work from home" part. In my eyes, work from home is fine, if your problem can be solved or is less severe at home. Need to use the restrooms spontaneously and often? Have a broken bone or back pain so you don't want to move? Don't want to spread something contagious? OK, work from home. I don't see how a dental problem could be less severe at home, so you should make up your mind: can you work with the pain, or can you not? And if you cannot, which is perfectly acceptable, then call in sick.

  • "work from home" -> immediately convert the hours commuting to resting, and there are a bunch of tricks related to dental pain that are tricky to do at work. Maybe it's legit.
    – Joshua
    Mar 12, 2020 at 16:32

It seems you have two options:

  1. Telling it as it is
  2. Lying by stating a reason you know is 'socially acceptable'

You will never know whether 'dental pain' is a valid reason if you don't try. In addition, you could perhaps even give a 'heads up' already now.

Personally, I would assume many/most adults would respect 'dental pain' as a valid reason to stay at home.

The only situation I could imagine where an employer would insist on you showing up would be an important client meeting where your presence is required.

  • "The only situation I could imagine where an employer would insist on you showing up would be an important client meeting where your presence is required." Even then if it were obvious that you were in significant pain, any compassionate employer would either reschedule or bring in a substitute (if possible).
    – Jane S
    Mar 29, 2017 at 5:16
  • I agree that most would reschedule or substitute for someone else. But if the OP was needed just to be there and not actually present, I could imagine some employers would try to pressure the OP to come along.
    – morsor
    Mar 29, 2017 at 5:18
  • 2
    That was why I didn't give an answer to the question; it's very company specific and dependent on both the employer and the employee's position and responsibilities within the company.
    – Jane S
    Mar 29, 2017 at 5:21

I would consider it an acceptable practice. I injured my back one time in a morning workout, and was in enough pain that I wasn't going to be able to effectively focus on my work. I was able to work from home too, and did so that day. No one gave me a bad time about it.

This is my opinion - but I think it's an acceptable use of a sick day or a work-from-home day any time you're in enough discomfort or pain that you aren't able to effectively focus on your work, even if it's not something contagious. May as well take a day to rest and heal (and come back closer to 100%) rather than distractedly trying to work and not really accomplishing all that much.


In addition to the approaches already given, you could mention that after a difficult dentist visit you were taking painkillers that made you distrust your ability to work accurately. (Only if it's true, of course.)

That nicely sidesteps any question about your willingness to work from home.

A related warning: I was once in a situation where I came to work after a dentist visit and ended up needing to talk to a customer on the phone. My boss later got a call complaining about her "drunk" employee. If the situation ever comes up again I'd open the call with an apology that my recent dentist visit might make me hard to understand and to not hesitate to ask me to repeat myself if necessary.

  • @joestrazzere edited to include your suggestion.
    – arp
    May 22, 2018 at 22:22

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