The majority of us have suffered or will suffer from dental pain in our lifetime. Despite having my dental check up recently and getting the all clear from my dentist (yes, I do have a dentist!), a few weeks ago I suffered from severe toothache. The pain came on very suddenly when my sinuses got blocked up. It felt like my upper wisdom tooth needed to be extracted.
It was a difficult evening to manage and my dentist had finished for the day, so I couldn’t get to see him. I managed the pain with some strong pain killers. I used a combination of Solpadeine and Ibuprofen pain killers to manage my pain. Luckily, as my sinuses cleared up, the pain subsided and I was back to normal after a couple of days.
Dental pain can be difficult to diagnose and it can be caused by many factors:
- gum infection
- gum abscess
- gum swelling
- bleeding gums
- wisdom tooth pain
- tooth infection
- tooth abscess
- blocked sinuses (as I recently discovered)
- facial muscle tension
- teeth clenching and grinding
- cracked tooth
- tooth decay
- broken filling
- decay underneath a filling
- receding gum causing dentine sensitivity
- post-operative pain after dental treatment or surgery
- ill-filling restorations, causing dentine sensitivity
- many other factors…..
When a patient comes and sees me with giving me a history of dental pain, I usually try and categorise into the following categories. If you cannot get to a dentist ASAP, the following may help:
- Pain of gum origin: e.g. ulceration, sore gums or a wisdom tooth trying to come through. (1) Take some pain killers to get you through the night. A combination of paracetamol or ibuprofen can help. It may be good if you visit your local pharmacist and ask for strong pain killers, such as codeine based medication. But you need to make sure that any medication you take will not interact with your current medication and that you’re not allergy to them. (2) Mix two teaspoons of salt in a small cup of warm water and rinse vigorously for one minute. (3) You can also rinse vigorously with Corsodyl mouthwash. (4) A numbing mouthwash, like Difflam, can help numb the gum temporarily. (5) A gel like Bonjela may also provide temporary relief. Make sure you get the problem seen to within a few days, even if the pain goes away. The source of the problem may still be there and you don’t want the pain from coming back again.
- Pain of tooth origin: e.g. constant raging toothache. (1) Take some pain killers to get you through the night. A combination of paracetamol or ibuprofen can help. It may be good if you visit your local pharmacist and ask for stronger pain killer, such as codeine based medication. But you need to make sure that any medication you take will not interact with your current medication and that you’re not allergy to them. (2) Sometimes, leaving a hot drink or cold water of the side of your toothache may help with the pain (be careful as this can also aggravate the pain).
- Pain from teeth clenching/grinding: sometimes pain is felt all over the mouth and sometimes it is localised. Sometimes you get a toothache (because it has been pressed hard many times) and other times you get a face ache. (1) Some non-steroidal anti-inflammatories (NSAIDs) can help. (2) A face and head massage can help relieve the tension. Get yourself in for a check-up- you don’t want to do damage to your teeth by unnecessarily clenching down on them: you may need a custom made gum shield (3) to cushion your teeth. (4) A heat pack or cold compress (ice) against the side of your face may also help.
- Pain from blocked sinuses (I’m talking from experience). You may experience a sharp shooting pain in your tooth and you may be able to pin point which tooth the pain is coming from. The pain may spread along the upper part of your cheek near your cheek bone. (1) I took some really strong pain killers (a combination of Solpadeine and Ibuprofen) and used a face steamer filled a decongestant like Vicks and inhaled the steam vapour (2).
The above is a guide and if the tooth or gum is badly infected then pain killers may not work effectively. Toothache can really drain you out. The best thing to do is to visit your dentist on a regular basis to ensure your teeth and gums are healthy. But it’s also best to keep some strong pain killers at home in the medicine cabinet just in case you were to have an out of hours emergency.
Written by Ric Dedi, Principal Dentist at Herts Dental
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