I don’t think I’ve known a patient who’s said, “I’m really glad this started hurting when it did. I was already in your parking lot and you happened to have time available!” Rarely does a toothache start at a convenient time. Fortunately, dentists typically accommodate emergencies and make arrangements to help patients find comfort again quickly. Better still, regular dental visits can help reduce your risks of developing toothaches by catching at-risk areas early.
Why do I have a toothache? Most often, the toothache is a result of inflammation coming from cavities (which rarely hurt until they compromise the nerve of the tooth). Other common possibilities for pain come from wisdom teeth, fractures, periodontal disease where the tissue and bone supporting the tooth is infected, abscesses, and teeth that are severely worn due to grinding. While home remedies won’t resolve the source of the toothache, nor restore the form and function of a tooth, they sure can make life tolerable until a visit to the dentist can be arranged.
How can I manage the pain? Many options exist to manage pain. The first, typical line of defense is over-the-counter pain medications. Anti-inflammatories work amazingly well, with choices ranging from natural medicines to products such as Advil and Aleve. Topical gels, like Oragel, work on the tissue AROUND the pain but infrequently help tooth pain. Warm salt water rinsesare effective to flush and soothe inflamed gums and can also irrigate large cavities to remove debris. One final home remedy for a toothache is to hold a cool peppermint tea bag or a small amount of clove oil on a cotton ball. The menthol present in peppermint is a desensitizer in some of our whitening products and, like eugenol present in clove oil, it works to provide a mild natural anesthetic. The anti-inflammatory aspect of clove oil is an added benefit.
It’s been said before, but visiting your dentist can help minimize your risk of further infection or damage from a toothache. Bonus: it can also help save you money, too.
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This blog was written by Dr. Brandon White, owner/dentist at White Dental Studio in Ashland, OR. White Dental Studio is Southern Oregon’s only environmentally-friendly dental office and uses eco-friendly practices to reduce pollution and waste, and save water and energy.