A toothache has the power to quickly ruin your day. The pain can be debilitating and can make it difficult to focus on anything else. You want relief – fast.
Many patients wonder if a home remedy such as rinsing with salt water will help until they can get to the dentist. The answer depends on the cause of your toothache.
Toothache Cause: Cavities
The most common cause of a toothache is a cavity or decay. Many cavities are too small to see, so you may not know you have one – until your dentist spots it during an exam or on an x-ray. Unfortunately, a toothache is often your first symptom of decay if it’s been a while since you visited your dentist.
A salt water rinse may alleviate some of the discomfort, but it won’t solve the problem. Call your dentist ASAP if you have a toothache so your teeth can be carefully examined and the decay can be corrected quickly.
Toothache Cause: Broken Teeth or Trauma to a Tooth
In some cases, you may know for certain what caused your toothache. Perhaps you hit your tooth on an object and it cracked or broke. Or, you may have injured your tooth but can’t see an obvious crack, which means there could be damage to the nerve that you can’t see. People who grind their teeth often don’t know they’re doing it – until they crack or break a tooth.
Whatever the cause of the trauma, you’ll need prompt dental care to get the tooth repaired and to stop the pain. A broken or injured tooth is not only painful, but can leave you susceptible to an infection. Be sure you call your dentist right away if you’ve injured your tooth. In many cases, doing a salt water rinse, along with pain relievers, can help you get by until your appointment.
Toothache Cause: Infection
An infected tooth, also known as an abscessed tooth, can be extremely painful. It occurs when bacteria get inside the tooth, often as a result of a damaged nerve. An infected tooth is serious because it can damage surrounding bone and teeth if it spreads. You can also get an abscess in the gums as a result of gum disease or food getting trapped between the tooth and gum.
A salt water rinse is a safe way to cleanse your mouth and relieve some of the pain of an abscess before your dentist appointment. Call your dentist immediately if you see signs of an abscess, such as a red, swollen area that may have pus inside. If an abscess is suspected, you’ll need prompt dental care.
How to Rinse with Salt Water
A salt water rinse is easy and effective for temporary relief before you see your dentist. Add one teaspoon of salt to 8 oz. of warm water and stir. Gargle with the mixture for 30 seconds, and repeat several times a day as needed.
Preventing a toothache is certainly more pleasant than trying to treat the pain. See your dentist every six months, and discuss any dental health concerns you have. Proper care for cavities, wearing a bite splint for grinding, and addressing gum problems are just a few of the ways your dentist will help you keep your mouth healthy and help you prevent tooth problems and pain.
Do you have a toothache, or do you just need a dental checkup? Contact the expert team at Craig Armstrong, DDS, to schedule your appointment!