Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Don’t be a Victim to a Toothache this Holiday Season

One of the most awful feelings is that of a toothache. To make matters worse is a toothache during the holiday season. Not only does it inhibit your consumption of the delicious food that is the holidays but it can be difficult to get an appointment with a dentist. So today I'd like to provide some all natural ways to help you deal with a toothache.

Why do I have a toothache?
The likely source of a toothache is due to an infection or abscess. This happens when decay penetrate the hard exterior of the tooth and extends into the soft tissue, known as the pulp, in the center of the tooth. Bacteria then infiltrated the tooth causing inflammation and ultimately an infection. The pain that results can be deep, sharp and throbbing. Other common symptoms associated with a toothache include:
  • Pain with chewing.
  • Hot and cold Sensitivity that may persist after the stimuli is removed.
  • Slight bleeding around the tooth or gums.
  • Swelling around the tooth or jaw.
Other Reasons for a Toothache
Infection is the most common explanation as to why you have a toothache; however, there are other reasons for the pain. Other dental related issues including:
  • Gum disease
  • Tooth fractures
  • Tooth extraction
For any of these issues a dentist appointment should clear things up. There are also more serious issues that can cause a toothache. If you experience any of the following issues, seek professional medical attention immediately:
  • Issues of the ears, sinuses or throat.
  • Temporomandibular Joint or TMJ: jaw pain that radiates giving the perception of a toothache.
  • High fever or chills: may be an indication that the infection has spread.
  • Recent head Injury: the tooth pain may be an indication of more serious issues.
  • Facial rash.
  • Jaw pain coupled with chest pain: the jaw pain may be referred pain from other areas and can be an indication of a heart attack.
  • Trouble swallowing, extreme pain and bleeding from the gums: in individuals with compromised immune systems, diabetes or have taken a regimen of steroids recently these symptoms may indicate the need for a more aggressive treatment.
Natural Remedies for a Toothache
The first thing to do when you have a toothache is to go to the dentist. Infection can spread quickly and it is important to get it under control. When you can't make it to the dentist because it is a night, weekend or holiday here are some suggestions.
  • Address the infection: A Fever is an important sign that an infection is present. The western approach is to take antibiotics. If you choose this approach, be sure to take Probiotics to counteract the effects that the antibiotics have on your gut flora. If you choose an herbal approach to fighting the infection, antimicrobial herbs are invaluable. Blasting your system with a tincture of Echinacea and goldenseal can help get the infection under control, but this means taking several milliliters every couple of hours.
  • Garlic: Garlic is another great antimicrobial herb that can be valuable for a toothache. You can take it internally (remember that the antimicrobial properties are destroyed by cooking) as food or place a slice of garlic on the tooth for 20 minutes to increase circulation and fight infection.
  • Clove Essential Oil: Clove (Syzygium aromaticum) essential oil is one of my go-to remedies for toothaches. Eugenol, one of the constituents in cloves, helps to anesthetize the pain and fight infection. I find the best way to apply clove essential oil is to put several drops on a cotton ball and apply it directly to the affected tooth. It doesn’t taste good and the salivary glands really kick into high gear when you use it but it helps with the pain tremendously! If you are using this for a child only use one drop of clove and soak the rest of the cotton ball with olive oil. If you are unable to obtain the oil you can crush or chew a whole clove and apply it to the site of the pain. Overuse of clove essential oil can cause gum damage so be sure to only use this in acute emergency situations.
  • Salt Water Rinse: In a glass of warm water add 2-3 teaspoons of salt. Swish the salt water in your mouth several times before spiting it out. Do this with the entire glass. It will help to clean and disinfect the infected tooth and help to draw out fluid that may be causing swelling. For added antiseptic power, add 1-2 drops of Tea Tree Essential Oil.
  • Fresh Ginger: Cut a slice of fresh ginger and remove the skin. Place the chunk of ginger directly over the sore tooth and bite into it. It should take away the pain almost instantly. Replace with a fresh piece of ginger periodically.
  • Turmeric: This bright yellow spice has amazing antibacterial and anti-inflammatory properties and help to increase circulation to the infected tooth. Add a few drops of water to a teaspoon of turmeric to make a paste and dab it on the sore tooth. To amplify this remedy, add a drop of clove and tea tree essential oil.  
  • Green tea and Chamomile tea: Green tea contains constituents that can treat infection and reduce inflammation. It is also very easy to obtain from any grocery store, convenience store or restaurant. Drink 2 cups a day to help with a toothache. Chamomile tea will help to relax you and your nerves by gently sedating the nervous system. It can also help to fight the infection, and is safe for children to take. For an adult take up to 3 cups of tea daily (1/2 to 1 tsp of dried flower in 1 cup of hot water steeped for 10 minutes). For children follow the guidelines for using Herbal Remedies for Kids.
  • Spilanthes: The leaves and flower heads of Spilanthes acmella, known as the toothache plant, are an amazing asset when you have a toothache. It’ analgesic property can numb the gums and relieve toothaches when the leaves or flowers are chewed. It is also a relative to echinacea, which is evident in its ability to stimulate wound healing, reduce swelling and treat bacterial, viral and fugal infections.  
Followup to the toothache
When using these herbal remedies, is not uncommon for the toothache to go away; however, it is still important to go to the dentist. If the infection persists, it can penetrate the root and then you run the risk of losing the tooth. Also, chronic dental infections are correlated to an increased risk in stroke. Plaque and bacteria can enter the blood stream through the mouth causing blood clots. So take care of your teeth.
Gladstar, R. (2001). Rosemary Gladstar's family herbal: a guide to living life with energy, health, and vitality. North Adams, Mass.: Storey Books.
Mars, B. (2007). The desktop guide to herbal medicine. Laguna Beach, CA: Basic Health Publications.
Mars, B., & Fiedler, C. (2011). The country almanac of home remedies: time-tested & almost-forgotten wisdom for treating hundreds of common ailments, aches & pains quickly and naturally. Beverly, Mass.: Fair Winds Press.
White, L & Foster, S. (2000). The herbal Drugstore: the best natural alternatives to over-the-counter and prescription medications. Emmaus, PA: Rodale.
Wildwood, C. (1996). The encyclopedia of aromatherapy. Rochester, Vt.: Healing Arts Press.

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