A toothache can cause agonising pain. Dentists in the the UK are set to reopen on June 8, however, it is still not going to be business as usual.
'Dentists will be keen to start providing care as soon as safely possible, but we will need everyone to be patient as practices get up and running,' says Mick Armstrong, chair of the British Dental Association.
So while you wait to see a dentist, we spoke to leading Harley Street dentist Dr Richard Marques, about how to deal with a toothache at home naturally.
However, if you have a toothache for more than one or two days, you should contact your dentist or GP.
1. Rinse with salt water
One of the first things you can do is rinse with warm salt water. Salt water temporarily increases the pH balance of your mouth, creating an alkaline environment in which bacteria struggle to survive. Because they – along with most other natural species – generally prefer an acidic environment, using the rinse often enough can make it difficult for bacteria to breed, says Dr Marques.
"A salt water mouth rinse is useful for a number of different reasons," he explains. "It's a great option for anyone who has a sore throat, gum sores or recently underwent dental procedures. It doesn't take the place of modern dental hygiene, but is used as a supportive measure for adults and children alike."
The use of salt also promotes healing, so it's ideal to use it 24 hours after minor dental surgery to help your mouth recover.
To make a salt water-based mouth rinse, Dr Marques recommends:
- Add ½ a teaspoon of salt to a cup of warm water.
- Rinse your mouth every two to three hours for the first few days after surgery, then use it three to four times a day thereafter.
"You can use the rinse to soothe and heal mouth sores, benefit a sore throat caused by strep, tonsillitis or even a common cold, provide emergency dental hygiene in the event you don't have your regular mouthwash or toothpaste handy."
You could use water carefully from the kettle that has boiled and then cooled down a little so you know it is somewhat purified. Do not use warm water from a bathroom tap as this can contain bacteria from water tanks.
2. Apply ice
An ice pack wrapped in a cloth comes in handy if your face is at all swollen because it can reduce inflammation and it may also ease the pain. But never apply ice directly to tooth.
Not one that you would usually associate with pain relief, but Dr Marques says that the use of garlic can also provide immense relief from toothache.
Crush a clove, mix with a little salt and apply to the affected tooth.
4. Applying oil of cloves
Clove oil can be the go-to remedy you need, if you cant get to the dentist right away (plus an inexpensive one) for toothache. It's the eugenol, an ingredient within clove oil, that provides the relief, advises Dr Marques.
"Eugenol is a natural aesthetic and antibacterial, and it works well at reducing inflammation in the mouth."
In fact, a study by the British Association of Oral and Maxillofacial Surgeons showed that eugenol is much more effective than using another analgesic and doing nothing else.
It may be the last thing that you want to do with a throbbing tooth, but exercise releases endorphins – which are the body's natural pain relievers.
Dr Marques says: "Exercise can help reduce inflammation, but it would not be one of the most effective methods. However, it can be speculated that increasing blood and lymph flow and circulation via various routines works against toothache both by helping to decongest the affected area and by allowing the tooth/gum to be better supplied with nutrition and oxygen while being drained of toxins more quickly."
6. Try a meditation app
Relaxation exercises can help calm your mind and also help to reduce stress hormones in your blood. Many aches and pains are rooted in brain processes that can be affected by your mental attitude and emotions, says Dr Marques. Toothache included.
"While the mechanics of these mind-body links are still being unraveled, what is known is that your brain, and consequently your thoughts and emotions, do play a role in your experience of physical pain. For instance, meditation appears to work for pain relief because it reduces brain activity in your primary somatosensory cortex, an area that helps create the feeling of where and how intense a painful stimulus is."
Laughter is also known to relieve pain because it releases endorphins that activate brain receptors that produce pain-killing and euphoria-producing effects.
7. Over-the-counter painkillers
If you need some relief (and these are only intended for short-term) ibuprofen and paracetamol are the most recommended painkillers for toothache. Check the side effects, contraindications and warnings as normal if you have not taken them before.
Then make an appointment as soon as possible with your dentist if things aren't resolving or you develop further symptoms.
Last updated: 02-06-2020
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