Many of my new patients come in for pain that they describe as severe or unbearable. When I ask them when the pain started they say, “Oh, a few months ago.” Please don’t suffer! Address mouth pain as soon you notice it. Dental discomfort and dental pain are things that are not going to get better on their own. Dental problems are likely to get worse, until they’re so bad that you have a dental emergency on your hands.
September is Pain Awareness Month, and I’m going to address some of the common causes of mouth pain, how to manage pain before your see a dentist, and how to prevent dental pain in the future.
Common Causes of Mouth Pain. Decay, disease, and damage are the most common causes of tooth and mouth pain. Other common causes include clenching and grinding, receding gums, gingivitis, sinus infections, or even a heart attack.
Cavities and decay are caused by bacteria excreting an acid that eats through the enamel on your tooth. That’s why brushing and flossing is important—it helps clean away the bacteria. These bacteria feed on sugar, so removing sugar from your diet removes their food.
Cavities and decay can cause pain, but dentists can remove the decay and place a filling to repair your tooth and prevent future pain. If cavities become so deep that they reach the pulp on the inside of your tooth, the nerve will become injured or even die, which can cause pain and lead to an infection.
Pain Management At-Home. If you are in pain, please call your dentist. Right now! While you’re waiting to see your dentist, there are a few things you can do to help relieve your pain.
- Take an over-the-counter pain reliever such as Advil, Motrin or Tylenol as allowed by your physician.
- Apply an ice pack or cold compress to your cheek or the area that hurts.
- Rinse your mouth with warm salt water, which can be especially soothing for sore gum tissue or cuts. This will not only reduce your pain but speed healing of your mouth tissues.
- Sleep sitting up. Moving to a recliner or propping yourself up with a few extra pillows can help reduce your pain.
- Avoid air travel. The change in air pressure may make your pain worse.
How to Prevent Pain in the Future. Good dental health is a partnership between your dentist and you. Your dentist provides the best care possible during treatment, and you provide the best possible follow-up care. While there are no guarantees, you can minimize the likelihood of experiencing dental pain by:
- Brushing twice a day
- Flossing at least once a day
- Getting your teeth professionally cleaned and examined at least twice a year
- Completing all prescribed dental work in a timely manner
Mouth pain is no joke! If your tooth hurts, call your dentist as soon as possible. We can help you find relief fast.