Did you know that over 80 percent of Americans suffer from one cavity or more by the time they are in their mid-thirties? Cavities and tooth decay in general often lead to pesky toothaches, which can range from bothersome to extremely painful.
Have you ever found yourself with a toothache, but you do not know how to temporarily fix it before you can get to the dentist? Here are some tips for emergency toothache relief, preventing infection, and figuring out what to do next.
Try Over-the-Counter Pain Medication
Even if you do not have prescription painkillers available, over-the-counter medicine can do a great job at managing pain for toothache relief. One of the biggest advantages of this type of medication is that you can get it at any convenience store, and you most likely already have it in your own home.
When you take painkillers, be sure to read the dosage instructions because they are different depending on the brand. For example, many doses of aspirin are 325 milligrams, while a standard dose for Ibuprofen is 800 mg and Tylenol is 1000mg .
If you are on other medication, be sure to talk to your doctor before you take any over-the-counter painkillers. Even though you can find them at a drugstore and they seem harmless, they may interact in your body and could cause potential problems with chemicals from other medicine. For example, Ibuprofen and Asprin can have drug interactions with blood thinners or heart medications.
For the best emergency toothache relief, it is recommended that you take the standard dose of pain medication every four to six hours, not exceeding what the package states in a 24-hour period. If you need more, you can always speak to your doctor or dentist so they can give a safe recommendation.
Chew on One Side
Generally, when you have a toothache, you feel the pain only on one side of the mouth. To avoid instant pain from biting down on the infected tooth, simply switch to the other side when you chew your food. Using this method, you will be able to avoid most irritation.
Try to cut up your food as much as possible and eat smaller bites with a fork so that you can keep food on one side of the mouth. If your mouth gets sore from doing this, take a break and eat foods that are easier to chew.
If you find yourself tense from chewing on one side of your mouth, you can do jaw exercises to help relieve the muscle pain. Try moving your jaw from side to side and opening your mouth to varying degrees to stretch the jaw muscles so they do not tense up.
Check for Abscesses
If you think you have an infection in your tooth, then you should also check for abscesses when you have toothache pain. Abscesses are pockets of pus that form around the infected tooth, usually on the gum at the base of the tooth itself.
If you see an abscess, you should call your dentist immediately. For abscesses that seem large or about to burst it is important that you get into your dentist right away. Your dentist can quickly get you on antibiotics to tame the infection.
Most importantly, do not pop an abscess on your own, even if you think that you will be able to keep the wound clean. Make sure the area is as sterile as possible, and then wait until you can visit a professional to get the job done. That way, you can avoid further infection.
If an abscess ruptures, it could lead to more infection going through your bloodstream, which will allow it to spread more quickly through your body.
Get an Antibiotics Prescription
If you have a serious infection and you cannot get treatment right away when you have toothache pain, you should consider getting a prescription for antibiotics. By taking antibiotics, you can begin treatment of the infection and begin to feel better while you wait for your dentist appointment.
Your dentist can usually prescribe you antibiotics to pick up at your local pharmacy. Make sure to tell him or her about any allergies or other medications you take, so that you avoid a harmful interaction. Antibiotics also dampen the effectiveness of some hormonal birth control methods.
If you do get a bottle of antibiotics, it is important that you finish the entire medication course, even after the symptoms of your infection go away. It is believed that not finishing the course can lead to future antibiotic resistance, which would be a problem if you have a more serious ailment in the future that needs the medication.
Gargle With Salt Water
Gargling with salt water is a great way to relieve pain when you have a toothache and infection in your mouth. It does the dual job of reducing pain and taking out bad bacteria generated by infection in the impacted tooth.
If you find that gargling salt water helps you, you can add it safely into your regular oral hygiene routine. Similar to oil pulling, it does a great job of removing excess bacteria in your mouth in order to keep your mouth cleaner.
The ratio of salt to water should be around half a teaspoon of salt with eight ounces of water. Warm the water up, mix them, and then swish the salt water around in your mouth before spitting it out. You can even add baking soda for a natural teeth whitener.
Pick Up a Dental Numbing Agent
If over-the-counter pain relievers are not giving your sufficient relief of your toothache, then can also consider apply the treatment directly to the source. Many drugstores have tooth-numbing gels, which you can put directly on the gum and tooth. They can sometimes be found in the baby section of the pharmacy because they are also commonly used for teething infants.
These are only temporary solutions, but even a small amount of relief from toothache pain can improve your quality of life while you wait to go to the dentist. The numbing gels are usually made of ingredients like benzocaine and lidocaine, which are gentle enough to help the pain in the most sensitive parts of your mouth.
Many of these numbing gels come in portable tubes so that you can take them with you on the go. They are also extremely fast-acting and can start to numb the area in less than a minute. Apply the gel regularly to avoid feeling pain in the tooth before you visit your dentist.
If you have a history of allergic reactions to topical treatments, always make sure to look at the ingredients in numbing help before you use it. Usually, these types of gels work for everyone and can provide fast relief, no matter where you are when toothache pain strikes.
Avoid Hot and Cold Foods
Food and drinks at extreme temperatures are some of the worst choices to make when you have toothache issues. Because the tooth is usually infected if it causes external pain, the nerves and the infected area are often extra sensitive to temperatures outside of the normal range.
Try to eat any food you can at a moderate temperature and avoid colder snacks like ice cream if you have a toothache. If you experience toothache pain while brushing your teeth, then try to brush with room temperature water to avoid further irritants.
When you heat up food, try to let it cool down so that it gets to a tolerable point. Even warm soup can taste better if it does not cause major pain in your mouth every time you take a bite. For drinks, try to stick to water and other liquids that are room temperature.
One important aspect to note about this kind of sensitivity is due to the amount of pain you experience from extreme temperature foods. The more sensitive your teeth are to temperatures, the more likely it is you have deep tooth decay that may cause more problems if left untreated.
Stay Away From Sugar
Similar to hot and cold foods, sugar can be another trigger that warns you to get your tooth checked out. Sugar can directly contribute to the breaking down of tooth enamel, a protective coating on your teeth that prevents them from getting damaged and also feed the bacteria that is causing your tooth decay or infection.
Sugar does double damage by causing tooth decay and making teeth much more sensitive when they already have an infection. Although it is best to avoid sugar as much as possible, sometimes you cannot help it when you have limited options of what to eat or drink.
However, there are certain types of sugar you can stay away from that cause more harm and damage to your teeth than others. For instance, hard and sticky candy can open up existing cavities even further and potentially get stuck in them, causing tooth decay to accelerate rapidly.
You should also try to cut back on carbonated soft drinks as well. They carry the double whammy of being full of inordinate amounts of sugar, and they are extremely acidic as well. Both of these combined can cause serious damage to your teeth and contribute to already existing cavities.
Another surprising culprit of sugar sensitivity is orange or citrus juice. Even if they are healthier than soft drinks, these juices contain large amounts of acid, which can cause a further breakdown in the healthy tooth.
Although cold food and drinks may irritate your tooth, applying cold temperatures to the outside of the area can ease the pain you experience from a toothache. Cooling down the area can help to relieve pain and swelling. It may even be able to numb the area topically a little bit.
A good rule of thumb is to apply the ice pack or cold compress for 20 minutes on and 20 minutes off. If you need to, you can set a timer on your phone or smart device to make sure you adjust regularly.
You do not need a fancy cold compress in order to get direct toothache relief from ice. You can put ice cubes in a plastic bag, wrap them in a towel, and press lightly against your jaw. You can also do the same with a bag of frozen veggies that is relatively flat, like peas or corn.
Other than pain therapy, the cooler temperature of the ice pack can also help to eliminate gasses trapped in an infected tooth. Once these gasses contract, you may feel less pressure on the tooth and more relief. Try to avoid any warm pressure and stick to cool options only.
Discuss Treatment Options With Your Dentist
When you have pain relief from your toothache, you need to schedule a visit with your dentist as soon as you possibly can. When infection occurs, it can progress rapidly, spread to other areas in your body, and possibly even lead to sepsis, which is a type of life-threatening infection.
Depending on how bad the tooth decay is, your budget, and many other factors, your dentist will come up with a treatment plan that works best for you. The goal is to ensure that you no longer have pain or infection and that you also work within your monetary means.
Root Canal Therapy
Root canal therapy is one of the most common treatments for worsening tooth decay. When you have a serious toothache, it usually means that the infection has gotten bad enough that a filling will not help the situation any further.
Extreme tooth pain is usually a signal that the infection has reached the nerves of your tooth. Even if you get a filling, the sensitivity to sugar, hot, and cold may continue without root canal treatment, and the infection could also spread beneath the repaired tooth.
If your infection is very difficult to access or particularly challenging, your dentist may send you to an endodontist, which is a doctor that specializes in root canal therapy. The endodontist will clean out the tooth decay, kill the infected nerves, or canals, in your tooth, and fill it with a temporary solution until you get a crown.
Root canal therapy can be an expensive treatment, but it is one of the best ways that you can repair your tooth and prevent future infection. Another added benefit is that it will most likely stop the toothache pain after the procedure is complete.
If the tooth is no longer salvageable, then your dentist may recommend a complete extraction as an alternative to an expensive root canal treatment. Sometimes a tooth is decayed too much for the dentist to get access or rebuild tooth structure through a root canal.
A simple tooth extraction is often more cost-conscious than a root canal treatment, which that must be followed by a crown. If you have a major infection, then taking out the offending tooth can prevent the infection from spreading to your surrounding teeth and gums, or even jaw tissue.
When your infected tooth is one of your back molars or another tooth that is not visible in your smile, then it is unlikely to negatively impact your quality of life. In fact, the simple pain relief provided by a tooth extraction can help you have a more positive outlook.
During a tooth extraction, your dentist will numb you completely in the affected area, then remove all remaining tooth matter and pulp. There may be significant pressure when the tooth is ripped from the socket, but the healing process is similar to other major dental procedures.
Filling or Composite
Sometimes if you are lucky, toothache pain can simply come from an exposed nerve in a cavity. If that is the case, your dentist may determine the best solution for you is a filling in the tooth, rather than an operation or root canal treatment.
Usually, the dentist will examine the amount of decay on an x-ray before deciding whether or not a filling is the best option. If the decay has not reached the nerves or pulp of the tooth and the decay can be cleaned out, then sometimes a filling may be best.
Fillings used to be made of amalgam silver or gold, but now the most common substance is a composite that matches the color of the tooth. The dentist will clean out the decay, insert the composite material, and then file it down so that it matches your natural bite structure.
A great benefit of getting a filling versus another type of treatment is that it is more cost-effective. Fillings are usually only a couple hundred dollars on average, which is less than the cost of a tooth extraction or root canal and crown.
When you get a procedure done like a root canal, then the treated tooth require a crown on top of it. The crown serves as a replacement for the tooth structure lost when your tooth began to decay and to cover the hole left after the root canal..
Sometimes your tooth can still be sensitive after you receive root canal treatment and crown. It is important to know that this is normal and should subside rapidly as your body finishes the recovery from the inflammation and infection you had. Another reason a crown is important is that when you get a root canal, your tooth is often weaker and prone to cracking. The crown material is strong and helps prevent further damage to the remaining natural tooth structure.
Crowns are custom fit to your tooth. In the past a dentist would need to order them from a dental lab.. The dentist would take an impression of your tooth to get an accurate size and shape of the final crown. A temporary crown would’ve been put in its place until the permanent crown is glued in. Thankfully, at our office we have the latest technology and Dr. Crump is able to design, make, and place your crown all in the same appointment.
Get Emergency Toothache Relief Fast
When you have a toothache, you should not have to worry about suffering while you wait to go to the dentist. If you have emergency toothache relief, you can continue on with your life with less risk of pain, discomfort, or infection.
Would you like to learn more about how to treat common tooth injuries before visiting the dentist? Take a look around our blog or contact us today for answers to all of your questions, or to schedule an appointment.