No one enjoys a toothache. Whether the pain is sharp or dull, or whether it’s constant or intermittent, I’m going to go out on a limb here and say that toothaches are in most people’s top five list of least favorite things. For you, it might even be number one.
The problem is that people often get toothaches at the worst possible times. Call it Murphy’s Law. Maybe you’re on vacation, or it’s a holiday weekend, or the dentist is booked solid for a few days and can’t get you in until later in the week. In any event, five minutes can seem like an hour and a hour can seem like a day when your mouth is on fire. Believe me, I feel for you. Dentists sometimes experience dental problems, too.
The good news is that there are usually things you can do to try and reduce your pain until you’re in the chair.
First, though, let’s try to understand what can cause toothaches. Not surprisingly, it can be one thing or a combination of several factors. These include tooth decay -- in layman’s terms, a cavity -- that can expose nerve endings within the tooth structure. Grinding your teeth, whether consciously or even while sleeping, can wear away the layers of a tooth or teeth. An abscess, caused by tooth decay and gum disease, can cause pain. Of course, trauma can be very painful; ask any hockey player. And even misaligned teeth can lead to a painful situation.
If your dental appointment is still a few or several days away, here are some things you might want to try to manage your pain until it can be treated permanently.
Rinse your mouth with warm salt water.
Salt water is like a balm for your mouth. Add a little table salt to a glass of warm water and sip some of it. Don’t drink or swallow it, but rather swish it around your mouth. As it moves around your teeth and gums, it will help remove bacteria from your mouth and reduce any swelling that might have occurred. Saltwater can have some healing properties, so this should make you feel better quickly.
Ice the pain.
Wrap some ice in a towel or get a cold compress and hold it against the tooth or teeth that are hurting. It’s going to feel cold against your face, and that’s okay. Let it numb your pain. Don’t hold it directly on or against the tooth, though. If you’re experiencing hot or cold sensitivity you might have an unpleasant flare up.
Take a painkiller.
This is where our old friend the aspirin, ibuprofen or other over-the-counter painkiller can provide welcome relief by dulling the pain. This can be especially helpful if your toothache is keeping you from falling asleep. Use only as directed on the package.
Try a natural remedy.
Some people claim to find relief from toothaches by using some things you might have around the house. These include placing a peppermint tea bag next to the tooth, chewing a clove of garlic and spitting it out or even applying oil of clove to the affected tooth with a cotton ball.
Remember, though, that these are only temporary measures. The first thing you’ll want to do is call your dentist, make an appointment as soon as possible and have the pain addressed once and for all. Good luck!
When people think of braces, they often picture a 12-year-old with a mouthful of metal. At one time, it was virtually unheard of for someone who was beyond their teen years to smile and show braces on their teeth. While that was an accurate perception at one time, that’s no longer the case. More and more adults, even those approaching senior citizen status, are now exploring the possibilities of straightening their teeth.
It’s easier now in some ways, as many of today’s braces are barely visible. And from a dentist’s perspective, it’s good to see so many adults taking care of their teeth. In some cases, maybe they wore braces during adolescence but weren’t so diligent about using their retainers afterward. For others, maybe their families couldn’t afford braces years ago, but their current financial situations make it possible for them to correct their teeth.
If you’re an adult who’s considering straightening your teeth, here are a few facts to help you understand what to expect.
For one thing, adults have to wear their braces longer than children do. If you opt to have braces, expect to wear them for up to two or three years. The reason is that children’s teeth continue to grow, but adult teeth don’t, so it’s a different set of rules in play. Also be aware that you might also need to wear a retainer permanently in order to keep your teeth from reverting to their original positions.
Also, there are a variety of models available. Metal is still on the market, but many adults prefer clear aligners because they’re not immediately visible, plus you can take them out. That said, though, it’s recommended that you wear your aligners 22 hours a day to get the most optimal results. There’s a trade-off, too; clear aligners are more expensive than traditional braces. In addition to clear aligners, there are what are called lingual braces, which connect to the back of your teeth instead of to the front, and ceramic braces. A problem with ceramic braces is that they can break more easily than other types and may be less comfortable to wear.
One question many adults ask is about pain. How much is involved if you choose to get braces as an adult? If you wore braces as a child or teen, you no doubt remember your orthodontist tightening and adjusting the pressure, which led to sore gums for a brief period afterward. The short answer is that, yes, there can be a little discomfort once you begin wearing braces, and after your braces are periodically adjusted. This is because your mouth needs a little time to get used to them. But you should get used to the pressure on your teeth, and an over-the-counter pain reliever will help minimize the discomfort.
Another big question I often get is about how much adult braces will cost. That’s a difficult one to answer, and it depends on a number of factors, but in general you’re looking at spending between $3,000 and $6,000. The so-called invisible braces are often more expensive than standard metal ones, and the reason for this is because they are more difficult to manufacture.
If you do decide to have your teeth straightened as an adult, be sure to take excellent care of them before, during and after your braces are put into place. This will ensure that your mouth is as healthy as possible.
Before you do anything, talk to your dentist and ask him or her for an opinion regarding how to proceed. Because your mouth and dental health are important to your dentist, you’ll be getting educated insights. Your dentist will also suggest orthodontists and make a referral to the one that you both believe is the appropriate professional for the job.