So I have a crown that popped out and has been killing me, I've lived on a steady diet of Tylenol since it popped out. I've noticed that aside from killing most of the pain from the tooth, the tylenol hasn't made me particularly drowsy, which to my understanding was how most pain killers work. If it doesn't just put me to sleep, how does tylenol work to numb pain?
Opiate pain killers or pain killers that act on opioid receptors have a different mechanism of action than NSAIDs. They tend to act as receptor agonists which exert their effect on the CNS (oxycodone as an example). Opioid receptors are associated with analgesia, CNS depression, sedation, etc. Tylenol on the other hand is thought to exert its effect by downmodulating cyclooxygenase, and therefore inhibiting the production of prostaglandins like H2, which is a precursor to lots of pro-inflammatory compounds.