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Tooth pain. Our oral archenemy.

Tooth pain. Our oral archenemy.

Tooth Pain

What’s tooth pain come from anyway?

Far too often I’ve seen tooth pain be mistakenly cited (by a pain-stricken patient) as deriving from tooth decay, or cavities. It comes from far more than just that, and the only way for you, with the tooth pain, to find out what’s metaphorically taking a jack hammer to your nerves, is an extensive oral evaluation from a dentist. But as one of the greatest cartoon producers of the 20th century said:

Faced with the choice of enduring a bad toothache or going to the dentist, we generally tried to ride out the bad tooth.”
Joseph Barbera (of Hanna-Barbera Productions, Inc.)

The above is not recommended, as unless the Tooth Fairy is real and happens past you, waving his Magic Tooth Fairy wand over your tooth dissolving you of all your pain, it’s going to get worse, not better. There is no “walk it off” when we’re talking about tooth pain. It will progress. The only questions are when, and to what degree.

Some of the other causes of tooth pain or ache range from infection and teeth grinding, to trauma and an abnormal bite. In your baby or young child it can be coming from a tooth that’s erupting.

Temporomandibular joint (TMJ) problems, a sinus or ear infection and tension in the facial muscles (from clenching or grinding continually) can cause some incredible discomfort which is very akin to tooth pain, but, usually, an easy way to distinguish these problems from a legit tooth pain is whether you have a headache associated with it or not.

If there’s pain around the teeth and jaw, it could be coming from something far more sinister like angina (which is usually a symptom of coronary heart disease). I tell you this as an “FYI”, not to scare you. To find out what is really going on in your mouth/jaw/tooth etc. you need to see a dentist. If it is serious, and the dentist suspects an actual medical illness, he’ll refer you to a physician.

If you’re noticing some pus in the area of the pain, that tooth where the pus is located may have an abscess which causes the bone around the tooth to become infected. The pus can also stem from gum disease. You’ll notice in this instance that the gums may be swollen, and it’s usually accompanied by bone loss.

What I’m getting at here is, there are many different reasons why one may experience tooth pain or a “toothache”, and to properly diagnose it you’ll need to see a dentist who will do a complete exam to determine where and why the tooth pain is occurring. X-rays may also have to be taken to determine what’s going on under the gums.

What can you do?

Well, good question. I’ve seen a lot of temporary home remedies ranging from “the whiskey wash”, which is essentially rinsing your mouth out with some strong whiskey (this may have some side effects), to the garlic and and salt water remedy, where you essentially mince or crush up some garlic cloves, soak the garlic in warm salt water, and use a cotton ball to absorb some of the liquid which you then use to press against the afflicted area. This remedy has some science backing it, actually. Garlic has within it’s pungent self, allicin. This little compound, which occurs when garlic gets crushed, is a type of natural antibiotic. It’s pretty commonly believed that the allicin in garlic can hold back or delay the effect of any bacteria present in a tooth with an abscess or inflamed area. Garlic is also believed to have a certain numbing affect as well.

Obviously, I’d have to say to you, if you are having severe pain in your teeth, gums, jaw etc., please, go get it checked by a professional. Not saying that those temporary solutions don’t have their place. They do. Perhaps at 4 a.m., after you’ve been awake for 4 hours tossing and turning, going to the bathroom to take your 3rd pain med and on the verge of pulling the tooth out yourself. Yes. Perhaps that would be a time to try out those home remedies. But, again, I’d have to say…go see a dentist afterwards!

When you do see the dentist, depending on what he/she finds, they’ll probably prescribe you an antibiotic. They may prescribe you some stronger pain medication. But, perhaps more importantly, they’ll find out the cause of what’s making you swear more than Captain Jack and all his privateers…combined. Once the dentist finds out the cause, he/she will be able to help work out the solution.

Wrapping it up here…

Basically as you may know, you have one set of adult teeth given you. Blame evolution and genetics on that. However, since we do only have one set of adult teeth, don’t risk losing them. If you are experiencing tooth pain, or jaw pain or any of the above mentioned “pains”, don’t wait to find out the cause, don’t wait to get it fixed. Sometimes those little abscesses in your jaw can turn into something which resembles Jabba the Hutt. That aching jaw can turn into that TERRIBLY BAD ACHING JAW.

If you’re in pain…let the dentist help fix it! We’re gentle!

Stay healthy my friends.

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