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One of the worst types of pain a person can experience is a toothache. If you are having a toothache right now, or have had a toothache but the pain went away and you haven’t done anything about it, take a minute to read this, because it may give you a way to get some immediate relief plus help you avoid making a mistake you will regret.
There are many causes of dental pain, but the most common cause of severe toothache pain is an abcess, which is an infection in and around a tooth usually caused by a deep cavity.
The first thing you need to know if you have an abcess is: even if the pain is 11 on a scale of 10, and even if you have swelling, you may not have to lose your tooth. In most cases, you can get relief from the pain just as completely and as quickly if you keep the tooth and have a simple procedure done to treat the infection.
What can I do to get relief from the pain NOW?
If you are having dull pain and not sure precisely which tooth is causing it, you may have an abcess in the early stages. At this point, OTC pain relievers will usually work fairly well. The best one for dental pain is Ibuprophen (Advil, Motrin), but you may need to take a larger dose than usual. For most adults the maximum dose of Ibuprophen is 800 mg at a time, up to four doses in a 24 hour period.
Sometimes, not often, toothache preparations you can get at the pharmacy will help. For these to work, there usually has to be a large open cavity in the affected tooth. Putting the toothache remedy directly into the cavity will relieve pain in some cases. However, these will not help if you are just putting it on the outside of the tooth or on the gum.
Many times, if the abcess is not treated, the pain goes beyond the reach of any pain relievers. At this point the infected tooth may become sensitive to temperature and to even light pressure or touch. It may feel like the tooth has gotten taller and is hitting more when you bite. Most of the time, at this stage, warm or hot temperatures on the tooth will trigger lingering pain, but cold will actually relieve the pain. Swelling may or may not have begun. If you have an abcess in this stage, swishing ice water over the tooth will be the best temporary relief of pain. But you need to see a dentist for definitive treatment as soon as possible.
Don’t Make a Mistake you will regret
The first reaction most people have to a severe toothache, is to figure on having the tooth pulled as the best way out of pain. It’s true, if you have an abcessed tooth, removing it will take care of the pain. But that could be a regrettable (and avoidable) mistake! Removing a tooth may impair your chewing, spoil your appearance and/or cause the rest of your teeth to shift.
It may be tempting to think that once you get out of pain, you’ll deal with the consequences later. And yes, many times you can put the tooth back in the form of an implant or a bridge. But not always; and even when it is possible, it will take months before you have your permanent replacement. Also, in most cases the cost of the replacement will be significantly more than the cost of saving your own tooth. Why risk that if you have the choice of keeping your tooth…pain-free and restored?
If I don’t get my tooth pulled, what can be done to get rid of the pain?
There is a quick and simple procedure, called pulpectomy, that can be done to immediately relieve the pain of an abcessed tooth. The dentist will first numb the tooth completely, then make an opening into the hollow space in the core of the tooth and place a medication to reduce infection and inflammation. At the same time, making the opening will release any pressure that has built up from the formation of pus, which also helps give immediate relief of pain. This procedure usually takes just minutes once the tooth is numb, and will keep it free of pain for weeks or months, allowing you plenty of time to make the right decision about what to do.
The procedure described above is actually less traumatic than a tooth extraction. In fact, there are many times when an abcess, which is an acute infection, does not allow pulling the tooth safely. So then, if you were going to have the tooth removed, you would either have to risk the extraction while there is active infection, which could cause a dangerous spread of the infection; or you would have to go on antibiotics and wait a few more days to have your tooth removed before you finally get full relief of pain.
All this is not to say extraction of an abcessed tooth is never right. What is never right is to have an irreversible procedure done before knowing your options and the likely outcomes. But you will need a dentist to determine whether your tooth can be saved or not. Don’t assume you already know. Teeth that may seem beyond repair are often great candidates to be saved and restored.
And you must also beware of a dentist who does extractions only, if you are looking for an unbiased opinion. The dentist you need to see is one who has experience with all the procedures necessary to save your tooth. It’s only common sense to ask the person who actually does a procedure, whether it can be done or not. You already know your tooth can be pulled if it has to be.
If you are having tooth pain, don’t put off getting it taken care of. This is a case where the solution is definitely better than the problem! Call Morgan Dental Care now for evaluation of the cause of your pain and the best solution. (207) 839-2655
The sooner you act, the better the outcome!