6 Tips to Control Root Canal Pain Until Your Appointment
So you’re getting a root canal. Congratulations! Soon your tooth decay will be long gone, and all the pain associated with it will be just a memory. But if your root canal has been scheduled for a few weeks from now, you may be feeling a little panicky – what about the pain you’re in right now?!
Tooth decay destroys your enamel and dentin, which exposes the nerves in your teeth and makes them sensitive – it can even cause persistent toothaches. Fortunately, we have some Dos and Don’ts for dealing with tooth pain until you can get your root canal.
Discuss a Pain Treatment Plan With Your Dentist or Endodontist
The first rule of tooth pain management will always be – talk to your dentist. This is because you may have special needs or be on certain medications that we don’t know about. You want to prevent harmful drug interactions and tell your dentist and endodontist everything you’re taking – prescription or over the counter.
And remember, even if the pain gets better, don’t cancel your appointment! Tooth decay doesn’t just repair itself. It only gets worse.
Avoid Cold and Hot Beverages and Food
Your teeth are sensitive right now because your nerves are exposed to anything they come into contact with. That means that there is usually a layer of protection between your tooth’s nerves and anything very hot or really cold that you put in your mouth. Without that protection, you are feeling that hot or cold so intensely that it becomes pain. It’s like brain freeze for your tooth, only way worse.
So pass on hot and cold food and beverages. Brushing your teeth with warm water instead of cold may also be helpful. However, you can apply a cold compress or ice to the outside of your cheek to help with pain and inflammation. Just don’t let it come too close to your damaged tooth.
Say No To Sugar and Acid
You should also be avoiding foods and beverages high in sugar or that have acidic properties. Both of these worsen tooth decay and while you may not feel immediate pain, they can make your situation even worse over time, which leads to more pain. Break the cycle! Say no to:
- Ice cream
- Fruit juice
- Hot chocolate
- Coffee (sorry!)
Try Over-the-Counter Pain Relief
As long as your dentist agrees (see the first tip), you can take an over-the-counter (OTC) pain reliever like ibuprofen or acetaminophen. Since these pain relievers deal largely in reducing inflammation, they may help with your tooth pain, although you likely won’t be rid of it entirely. Never take more than the recommended dose, no matter how much it hurts. It’s not worth damaging your liver or accidentally overdosing.
Never use pain medication directly on your tooth or gum tissue – even if it’s meant for such oral use. This can cause chemical burns on your gums which will increase your pain greatly.
Oil of Cloves (Eugenol) Might Help
Eugenol is used in a variety of dental materials because it is a natural antiseptic and anesthetic. You can find eugenol, or oil of cloves, in most health food stores, and sometimes in your pharmacy in the supplements aisle.
To use eugenol, soak a small piece of cotton (you can pull some off a cotton ball) in the oil. Then blot the cotton on a tissue to remove any excess oil. Use a clean pair of tweezers to hold the cotton on your painful tooth for 10 seconds. DO NOT swallow the oil. It is not meant to be ingested.
Brush and Floss
We know it’s painful, but try not to avoid brushing or flossing your damaged teeth. Keeping your mouth clean can actually help with the pain – clumps of bacteria produce acid that worsens your condition and can trigger more pain. Try to floss between teeth that are painful, as removing food particles and plaque can lessen your discomfort.
If you have any questions about how to control your root canal pain until your appointment, contact James A. Penney. We’re happy to talk you through your options or make you an appointment to come in and have your tooth looked at.