Dental Problems – A Helpful Guide for Patients

15 April 2021

Some dental problems need urgent attention, and others can be managed at home. St.James Dental is open for routine and emergency appointments, and ready to help in the event of a problem. If you are struggling to attend or concerned about a dental problem, the following information is a guide to help you at home.

 

Dental Pain

Painful Ulcer Getting You Down?

Although painful, most ulcers will heal within 7-10 days. If an ulcer or oral lesion doesn’t heal after 3 weeks, it should be checked by your dentist.

Top tips to manage painful ulcers:

  • Warm salty mouthwashes; performed at a different time to Corsodyl mouthwashes for maximum benefit.
  • Maintain excellent dental hygiene (even if it is painful to brush); as the area must be kept clean to encourage healing and prevent further ulcers.
  • Difflam™ (benzydamine) spray or mouthwash can help to numb the pain temporarily.
  • Eating soft foods will reduce trauma from biting and eating plain foods will reduce any stinging or burning.
  • Painkillers can help; ibuprofen is the most effective at relieving dental pain (see below for further information on pain relief).
  • If you have dentures that are rubbing, remove any sharp edges with an emery board or nail file. Use a denture adhesive such as Fixodent® to help secure loose dentures and remove your dentures where possible to reduce and relieve any trauma.
  • Corsodyl mouthwashes; performed at a different time to tooth brushing to avoid staining.

 

Sore or Inflamed Gums

Swollen or inflamed gums can be painful. One of the most common causes of inflammation is gum disease, but incorrect brushing and flossing can also play a part. According to Healthline.com, gingivitis (gum inflammation) is the most common cause of swollen gums. Often the symptoms are mild, however if not treated, gingivitis can eventually lead to periodontitis (gum disease), which is more serious and can lead to tooth loss if left untreated.

Wisdom tooth pain is another common cause of swollen or inflamed gums. It affects the gum overlying the erupting tooth and can be made worse when eating. Most flare-ups will settle by themselves within a week.

Top tips to manage sore gums and wisdom tooth pain:

  • Maintain excellent dental hygiene (even if it is painful to brush); as the area must be kept clean to encourage healing.
  • Corsodyl mouthwashes; performed at a different time to tooth brushing to avoid staining.
  • Eating soft foods will reduce trauma from biting.
  • Painkillers can help; ibuprofen is the most effective at relieving dental pain (see below for further information on pain relief).
  • Warm salty mouthwashes; performed at a different time to Corsodyl mouthwashes for maximum benefit.
  • Drinking lots of water will help saliva production and weaken the disease-causing bacteria.
  • Using a warm compress will reduce gum pain.

 

Sensitivity to Hot or Cold

Sensitivity can have a number of causes. The most common cause is gingival recession and exposed root dentine. If the sensitivity is extreme, then you could have tooth decay, and this should be checked by your dentist. Sensitivity is not an infection and cannot be treated with antibiotics.

Top tips to manage sensitivity:

  • Regular cleaning with fluoride toothpaste after meals.
  • Rub sensitive toothpaste such as Colgate® Sensitive Instant-Relief directly onto the affected area but do not rinse afterwards.
  • Reduce your intake of sugar to stop the decay getting worse.
  • If you can see or feel a hole, this should be checked by your dentist. Temporary filling kits are available from supermarkets and pharmacies.
  • Anaesthetic gel such as Orajel™ can help to ease the pain.

Crowns

Lost Crown

Losing a crown can be daunting and should be checked by your dentist. In the event of an emergency, or if you are unable to attend the practice, temporary cement kits are available from supermarkets and pharmacies.

Top tips to manage a lost crown:

  • Clean and check the crown. If the crown is mostly hollow, you could try to recement it yourself if you feel confident to do so.
  • Remove any debris from the crown so that it fits properly. Use the tip of a paperclip (or something similar) to scrape the old cement away. Clean your tooth thoroughly.
  • Check the crown fits without cement. Does the bite feel correct? If the tooth feels too tall, it’s not fitting correctly. Check for debris inside the crown. Never force a crown onto your tooth as it can permanently damage the tooth. If you can’t get the crown to fit, don’t panic, keep the crown safe and keep the tooth clean until you can see your dentist. Protect the exposed tooth as best you can.
  • Crowns should be recemented using a dental cement from a pharmacy such as Recap-it™. Do not use superglue or Fixadent® to fit your crown.
  • Once you have practiced fitting the crown, dry the tooth and crown, mix the cement as instructed on the packet, fill the crown, and place it directly onto the tooth. Bite firmly to press it into place.
  • Remove any excess cement with a toothpick, and floss between your teeth to make sure they do not stick together.

 

Emergency

Managing Pain

Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory medications such as ibuprofen are the most effective at relieving dental pain. The routine dose is 400mg taken 3x per day (taken at regular intervals). In the event of severe dental pain, you can safely take up to 800mg 4x per day (taken at regular intervals) for a short period of time, until you can see your dentist. Make sure you take ibuprofen with or after food, and do not exceed the recommended dose. Combining paracetamol (1000mg 4x per day) with ibuprofen can make it more effective.

Go straight to A&E if you have:

  • Facial swelling extending to the eye and affecting vision or extending to the neck and affecting swallowing or breathing.
  • Limited mouth opening (< 2 fingers width).
  • Trauma causing loss of consciousness, double vision or vomiting.

Make an urgent dental appointment if you have:

  • Facial swelling extending to the eye or neck that doesn’t respond to antibiotics.
  • Bleeding following an extraction that does not stop after 20 minutes of pressure with a gauze or clean handkerchief. A small amount of blood is normal, just like when you graze your knee.
  • Bleeding due to facial or dental trauma.
  • A broken tooth with pain or the tooth has fallen out.
  • Significant toothache preventing sleep or eating, associated with a significant swelling, or a fever that cannot be managed with paracetamol.

If you have a dental emergency or any concerns about your dental health, please don’t hesitate to contact the practice on 01452 727 667 or St.James Dental where one of our patient advisors will be happy to help.

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