Bite into a seed while on your beach vacation? Wake up to a pounding toothache on the weekend? A toothache can really derail your plans. Of course, if you have a toothache you should call your dentist and make an appointment ASAP. Your tooth may be damaged or infected. A broken tooth or crown exposes the sensitive roots of your teeth. Your risk of infection increases with prolonged exposure of your roots. An unchecked, untreated infection can lead to serious issues. However, you may not always be able to get into your dentist right away. Whether you’re away from the office or your dentist is, there’s no need to stop your life while you wait. We’ll give you some suggestions for natural and medicinal pain management.
Natural Pain Management
There are several options for managing your pain naturally. We’ll start with the least intervention and move to more aggressive.
Your saliva actually has pain-killing properties stronger than morphine, just in low concentrations. Make sure you are drinking plenty of fluids so your body can keep up adequate levels of saliva. This is your body’s built-in way to manage your tooth pain.
Endorphins are another built-in system for managing pain in the body. If you like to exercise, get your heart rate up and pump some endorphins through your system! Not up for a vigorous workout? Even a brisk walk can help raise your endorphin levels. Try to stay active as much as you can.
Salt water has anti-bacterial properties. Gently brush your teeth to remove any lodged food and residue to get the area clean. Then, dissolve 2 teaspoons of salt in an 8oz glass of slightly warm water. Make sure to use only warm water, hot or cold water can be very painful to a damaged or infected tooth. Use the salt-water as a rinse, swishing gently around your mouth, especially near the toothache. Spit the water and debris out.
Cloves are a natural anesthetic. Using clove oil won’t help cure the infection at all, but it can numb the nerves in the area to reduce the pain you experience. Place a few drops of clove oil on the tip of a cotton swab. Use the cotton to gently rub and tap on the broken, exposed area of the tooth. Start slowly, as your tolerance for the clove oil may depend on how much your tooth is damaged. If you find the clove oil to be too painful, try diluting it with some olive oil before applying.
Medicinal Pain Management
You can find many toothpastes over-the-counter for treating sensitive teeth. All of these work to rebuild the enamel in weak spots where your nerves are exposed. You can try gently brushing the affected area several times a day to reduce pain. Additionally, you should try to avoid eating or drinking for about 30 minutes afterwards to allow the toothpaste to absorb into the tooth. If just brushing isn’t helpful, try “pushing” toothpaste into your dentin tubules. You do this by breaking a toothpick in half and rubbing it on a clean, flat surface to make the new end flat. Put a bit of toothpaste on the new surface and tap it into your tooth gently. Imagine you’re trying to put the wax cap on exposed honey in a beehive. The toothpaste goes into the microscopic holes to seal the entrance from bacteria and food.
If you’re still struggling to make it through the pain and you’ve tried these less invasive tactics, consider an over-the-counter pain reliever such as Ibuprofen or Acetaminophen. However, whatever pain reliever you use should be one that your medical doctor has approved before, with knowledge of your specific health considerations.
When you have a damaged tooth, your pain will likely be sensitive to hot and cold temperatures, as well as any strong acids. Stay away from tomatoes, citrus foods, or anything else acidic. Drink your drinks at room temperature. Save the ice cream and smoothies for after you’ve resolved the issue. You may also respond to sweet foods, which is usually a pretty good indication that you have a cavity that’s reached the center of your tooth.
When to Head to the ER
You may not consider a toothache a life-threatening condition, but there are times when you should consider going to the ER directly. If you have had a fever and severe toothache for several days and you begin to notice swelling in your neck or difficulty breathing you should go to the emergency room. It is likely that infection from your tooth has spread to your neck and airway and could be life-threatening. Generally the ER can’t do anything for your tooth directly, but if you have obvious signs of an infection and out of control pain they can handle your symptoms. They will likely prescribe an antibiotic or painkiller and refer you to your dentist. If you are in severe pain and don’t expect to be able to see your dentist soon, call dentists in the area and ask for an emergency dental appointment. Only a dentist is likely to pull or treat an infected tooth directly. It’s important to get to the root of the issue and solve it, instead of just treating uncomfortable symptoms.
Visiting Colorado Springs and need an Emergency Dentist? West One Family Dental is glad to care for you while you’re here in the Springs! Give us a call at 719-633-8766!