No one wants to go to the dentist until they actually have to, and toothache is usually one of those things that requires an urgent visit. Unfortunately due to the current lockdown situation, landing a dental appointment right now is pretty challenging.
The thought of having unbearable tooth pain without any access to a dental professional is a nightmare for many. Luckily, there are some things you can do to manage the pain during this time.
Choose the right pain relief
If you're experiencing pain, over-the-counter painkillers such as paracetamol can help. However, make sure they are taken in accordance with the instructions on the packet.
For tooth sensitivity to hot or cold, try switching up your toothpaste to a sensitive one (such as Sensodyne Repair and Protect, Sensodyne Rapid Relief or Colgate Pro-Relief). Rub some toothpaste onto the affected area directly if need be.
If you have wisdom tooth pain, this can be extremely painful. As much as possible, you should try to continue thorough cleaning (even if painful) with a small brush, like a single tuft brush or interspace brush. Following brushing, dip a brush or cotton bud into some mouth wash and clean the teeth. I recommend use something like Corsodyl/Curasept or Peroxyl, but make sure you only use it for a maximum of three days as it can stain teeth brown.
Additionally, to manage manage wisdom teeth pain, try to eat soft foods and rinse with saltwater throughout the day.
If you develop a fever or have difficulty swallowing or swelling in your cheek, you may need antibiotics. Make sure you call your dentist or NHS 111 if you are concerned.
Watch what you’re eating during lockdown
We’re all self-isolating at home and are unable to make the decisions we usually do, so making the right food choices can be tricky. However, by making some conscious changes you can help reduce damage to your teeth.
For example, try to keep all sugars and acids to only mealtimes and aim for no more than three to four sugar/acidic attacks per day. Use a straw for drinks (avoid plastic ones) and try and rinse your mouth with water after consuming dark coloured foods and drinks.
Prevention over intervention
If you haven’t already, now is the time to invest in an electric toothbrush. You can buy one through my online store. Dental decay and gum disease are entirely preventable, and using an electric toothbrush daily whilst following a proper oral hygiene routine can reduce your risk of developing gum disease, as well as reverse and damage in the early stages.
With an electric toothbrush, you get a far more superior clean and effective plaque removal because you get more brush strokes per minute than you could ever generate yourself with a manual brush.
Place the toothbrush bristles against the teeth at a 45-degree angle towards the gum line. Many of us forget to brush our gums when we brush our teeth, but brushing your gums is integral because this is where plaque will sit.
When brushing, hold the handle gently with a light grip, and only apply light pressure. Glide the brush across your teeth and gums gently, allowing your brush to do must of the work. Do not scrub, as this can cause permanent damage to the gums. The exposed underlying tooth surface is not as strong as the tough outer enamel, leaving it more susceptible to further wear, dental decay, sensitivity and an unpleasing aesthetic appearance.
Lastly, spit the toothpaste out but try not to rinse your mouth. Rinsing with water washes away the beneficial ingredients in toothpaste, such as fluoride, which helps to prevent dental decay. If you choose to use a mouthwash, use it at a separate time to brushing your teeth.
Don’t neglect in-between your teeth or ignore bleeding gums
Toothbrushes are not capable of reaching in-between teeth to remove unwanted debris. In total, brushing only cleans about 60% of our teeth. However, inter-dental cleaning with floss or brushes helps prevent tooth decay and gum disease, which can occur when food and plaque are left lodged between teeth.
If you notice bleeding when using an inter-dental brush or floss, don’t worry too much and keep going! Bleeding gums are caused by plaque – the white sticky film that forms in all our mouths. Plaque is filled with bacteria – some of these bacteria are good and some are bad. If plaque is left behind after a period of time, it starts to irritate the gums and cause inflammation.
If you have the space between your teeth, opt for inter-dental brushes and always use the biggest size possible (you may need more than one brush size). If your teeth are tight together, dental floss is recommended. Do this once a day, preferably at night and in front of the mirror.
Determine if you have a dental emergency
Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, dental practices around the world are closed, opening their doors only for patients experiencing dental emergencies. Dental emergencies are classed as:
Toothache not improving with medication
Bleeding after an extraction
If you are worried about your tooth pain, contact your dentist or hygienist who can help give you advice and triage your problem to the appropriate treatment method during this time or call NHS 111.