If you wake up with a painful, swollen jaw and one of your teeth is painful to touch, you likely have an abscess. Even a small amount of infection in the root canal causes inflammation and pain. The pain and swelling won't go away on their own, so if the pain is severe, consider calling an emergency dentist. If you can tolerate the pain and would rather visit a general dentistry clinic, here are some tips to help you get by until you get in for an appointment.
Dealing with the Pain and Pressure
Bacteria have gotten into your tooth canal through a small cavity or crack in the tooth. The nerve and soft tissue in the tooth is infected and your body's immune system responded by sending white blood cells to fight the infection. This is what causes the swelling, and the pressure on the nerve is causing the pain. The following suggestions will help you reduce the swelling and pain.
- Use ibuprofen as directed--This is an anti-inflammatory pain medication which will reduce some of the swelling in your tooth and jaw. It won't reverse the swelling completely but will prevent it from getting worse before your appointment.
- Rinse your mouth with salt water--Mix a spoon of salt in a glass of warm water, take a sip and hold it in your mouth for a few seconds. Repeat several times. This mixture pulls water out of the swollen area to reduce the pressure and pain.
- Rinse your mouth with hydrogen peroxide--Mix equal parts of hydrogen peroxide and water. Rinse your mouth with this for a few seconds. Do not swallow because the hydrogen peroxide will irritate your stomach. This mixture will also pull fluid from the infected area and kill some of the bacteria.
- Use oil of cloves--With a cotton ball or swab, dab a small amount of this directly on the tooth and surrounding gum tissue. This will numb the area slightly and reduce the pain.
- Use a black tea bag--A moistened black tea bag held against the gums has a numbing effect to reduce the pain.
What to Expect at Your Dental Appointment
Your dentist will clean out the infected area and look for the way the bacteria got into the tooth canal. If the problem is a small cavity, your dentist can repair that. If it's a cracked tooth, it may need to be removed. Before any of that work is done, your dentist will have you take antibiotics for several days to make sure the infection is completely gone. If your pain is severe, you'll get a prescription for pain medication to take while the antibiotics are clearing up the infection.
To receive dental assistance, contact a company such as Barnstable Dental Associates.