It’s something most people have suffered one time or another and one that many people dread—a toothache. When people are in pain, they don’t know what to do. How soon should they get to the dentist? Should they try to just deal with it on their own? What do they do?
Obviously, the first thing to do is call your dentist’s office. If there is an emergency number for the office, call it. Leave a message or ask any staff who answer how quickly you can be seen. Describe the ache, its location and what makes it worse. Heat? Cold? Pressure? Lying down? Standing up? Are your gums bleeding in that area? Is there any pus being discharged? Is there a bad taste in your mouth? Is the pain continuous or does it only come on at certain times? Is there any fever?
They key is to get to the dentist as soon as possible. A toothache means that you actually have a health problem. Putting this off will only make things get worse. And even if the pain eases up, the underlying cause for the pain hasn’t been addressed. Infections do more than cause pain—they can actually cause further problems if not handled. Therefore, you must get to a dentist as quickly as you can. At StarBrite Dental, the office of Dr. Maryam Seifi, we have emergency after hours because of this exact reason. The first thing to do is call and let us know what problem you’re having.
However, even with the fastest trip to the dentist, you still may be in pain for a couple hours. Following are a few tips to follow while you’re on the way to the office.
The best remedy for a toothache depends on the most likely cause for your toothache. While you will need a dental exam and perhaps an x-ray to know the exact cause, you can use these gentle solutions to get any improvement possible:
- Gum Infection.If you have swelling and pain around a tooth but no fever and little or no pain on chewing, you may simply have an infection in your gum. Start with flossing gently to remove any food particles that could be irritating your gums. Then rinse your mouth thoroughly with warm salt water.You can also soothe irritated gums with aloe vera. Massage aloe juice on your gums with a clean finger for one to two minutes. Then rinse with warm water.Warm and cold compresses held up to your face next to the swollen gums can also help. Start with a warm, moist compress for five minutes, then follow with a cold compress held against the face until it starts to feel numb. Repeat this cycle two or three times. If the pain returns, you can go through this cycle again.An antiseptic mouth rinse can also help. Ask your pharmacist to recommend one for you. If you can’t do this, mix hydrogen peroxide (3%) with an equal part of water. Swish through your mouth and teeth for 30 seconds, then rinse thoroughly.
- Tooth Infection.If you have an infection in your tooth or jawbone, you might have a fever, and there would be a swelling in the gum or in the jaw over the root of the tooth. It’s likely to hurt when you chew. Your breath may be bad and you may have a sour taste in your mouth. You may notice pus draining into your mouth.In this case, your only remedy is an over-the-counter pain reliever and arriving in your dentist’s chair on an emergency basis. Look for ibuprofen or acetaminophen, unless there’s any allergy or sensitivity to these pain relievers.
- Trauma.If you receive a blow to a tooth or bite a foreign object in your food, cold compresses
used as described above can help ease the pain until you see your dentist.
With the right care, it’s possible to go your whole life without a toothache. Here’s what you should do to avoid this problem:
- Brush your teeth twice a day with a soft toothbrush. Focus on brushing gently for two full minutes, not forgetting the teeth all the way in the back of your mouth.
- Floss every day. This is important but many people don’t make the time for it. If you have a bridge or two, flossing under your bridge (with floss threaders) will help your bridge last longer and extract food particles that might irritate or infect your gums.
- See your dentist regularly. If you follow his or her treatment advice, you’ll be able to handle any problems while they are small. In most cases, it’s a problem that has been developing for quite a while that turns into a toothache.
The key thing to remember is to not wait a single minute! When you realize you have a toothache, call your dentist immediately and ask them to squeeze you into their schedule. This is, by far, the best solution to any tooth, gum or mouth pain.
At StarBrite Dental, a dental office located in the Rockville/North Bethesda area, we make a point to be responsive and available even late at night. We know that toothaches don’t always occur during business hours. Call the emergency office number at (301) 377-2186 and let us know what trouble you’re having. We’ll help guide you through the process and get you seen as quickly as possible.