There are a lot of DIY dental remedies out there, but not many of them are actually endorsed by dentists…in fact, some of them can cause more harm than good! Take home whitening concoctions (like lemons or charcoal) as an example: you think they work, but it might cause erosion to your teeth and make them yellower after a few more uses! Unfortunately, you didn’t know that before you looked them up on Pinterest.
It’s the same with a toothache. You may have heard that putting aspirin next to your tooth can help, but instead, it causes chemical burns and severe tissue damage. Your dentist is the very best person to see about dental pain. Until you can get an appointment, here are some safe and dentist-approved home remedies to manage your discomfort when you’re out of town or up in the middle of the night:
1. Rinse With Salt Water
One of the most common causes of pain is inflammation. Salt water is great for help to reduce swelling. Mix a talk glass of warm tap water with one tablespoon of table salt. Swish gently and spit it out in the sink, and repeat until all the liquid is used up. You can repeat this every hour as necessary. The salt will help to draw out the extra fluid built up, so that any discomfort related to the swelling will go down.
2. Alternate a Warm and Cold Compress
Use a soft, damp cloth that is heated or cooled and apply it to the side of your face for 15 minutes and then alternate it with the other temperature. Constantly alternating the temperature can help swelling go down and offers an artificial “numbing” sensation. Just be sure not to hold the compress in that area for too long, as you don’t accidentally want to do more harm than good.
3. Pick Up a Desensitizing Gel
Remember the teething gel that you could buy for your baby? It works for adults too. Just dab a small amount onto the area that hurts and reapply it as necessary. The only downside is that it’s a weaker concentration that what your dentist uses, so it won’t last for very long. That being said, it’s a quick go-to if you’re in a lot of pain and are counting down the minutes until you can get in to see the dentist.
4. Take Ibuprofen
Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) like ibuprofen are usually the go-to over the counter medication for toothaches; especially if you have an abscessed tooth. If your primary care physician doesn’t want you on an NSAID, you might opt for acetaminophen instead, just for the analgesic relief. The reason ibuprofen is the medication of choice is, once again, because of the inflammation that is so often associated with tooth pain.
5. Use Sensitivity Toothpaste
Some types of tooth pain are due to tooth surfaces being exposed to temperature changes. An example would be when your gums are receded and a visible portion of the root is showing. Sensitivity toothpastes work to block the microscopic pores off, so that your tooth nerves aren’t as sensitive to changes in their environment. The catch is that it can take up to two weeks of daily use before you see an impact.
While you’re at it, make sure you aren’t using any whitening products like toothpastes, gels, or pens. Surprisingly, these do the opposite of a sensitivity toothpaste — they open up your pores and make your teeth more sensitive. Even some sensitivity toothpastes contain whitening formulas!
The Best Tip of All…
Of course, the best way to avoid that toothache is to make sure it doesn’t happen in the first place. Take advantage of your preventive care appointments with your dentist (exams, cleanings, and diagnostic x-rays) to pinpoint issues before they have a chance to become problems. That way you can “fix” the condition while it’s still reversible or affordable to manage. Fortunately, if you have dental insurance or are enrolled in a discount plan, you probably won’t pay much (if anything) out of pocket for these visits.
Most dentists offer some type of emergency or after-hours services to their existing patients. If you’re looking for a new dentist, try calling them right when their office opens up for the day…it will give you the best chance at getting in as quickly as possible for faster pain relief.
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