OH the pain!
December 23, 2007 1:22 PM   Subscribe

My roommate is dying from a toothache. However, with it being Sunday, no one is open. Is his only option the emergency room or waiting in pain?
posted by Ikazuchi to Health & Fitness (36 answers total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
Response by poster: If it helps, we're in Tampa, FL.
posted by Ikazuchi at 1:23 PM on December 23, 2007

My dentist's answering service will take messages in emergencies. Does your roommate's? Try calling his or her dentist now and see what happens. (I presume you've already thought of this, but just in case...)
posted by The corpse in the library at 1:29 PM on December 23, 2007

Google shows http://www.dentaler.com/ if you google Tampla FL Emergency dentist.

My dentist's office says to go to the ER outside office hours, so ....
posted by Comrade_robot at 1:30 PM on December 23, 2007

I think there are local anesthetics for tooth aches that you can buy over the counter. If that does not work, there's always the old-fashioned remedy of a cotton ball soaked in high-proof booze applied to the tooth (never tried this myself, but read about it in a book).
posted by Mid at 1:38 PM on December 23, 2007

Actually, I just googled it, and I guess you put the cotton ball against your gums near the tooth, not on the tooth itself.
posted by Mid at 1:40 PM on December 23, 2007

That extent of tootache is an abscess. Get to an ER or face losing the tooth and the one next to it, and the one next to it. You need antiobiotics.
posted by A189Nut at 1:51 PM on December 23, 2007

Rubbing spirit into the gums does work. Though when you eventually meet the dentist tell him you've done do he doesn't think you are an alcoholic.
(Also, weirdly, the cartoon trick of tying a towel under your jaw and over the top of your head works as well)
posted by fearfulsymmetry at 1:54 PM on December 23, 2007

Seriously, try having him take a mouthful of cold water and holding it on the side with the bad tooth. Its a pain in the ass, because when the water gets warm, you have to replace it with cold again, but it'll at least keep it from hurting.
posted by aleahey at 1:55 PM on December 23, 2007 [1 favorite]

The 2 times in my life where I had to go to the ER for a tooth related pain the only option they gave me was to Yank. And after the yank, they only recommended (not prescribed, or gave) ibuprofen. Beware.
posted by crustix at 1:56 PM on December 23, 2007

Try clove oil.
posted by pompomtom at 2:02 PM on December 23, 2007

Do you have whole cloves in the house? Chew a clove or two a bit to release the juice then place between the affected tooth and the cheek. It'll numb that right up. Using cloves and clove oil is a very traditional remedy for tooth pain.
posted by nelleish at 2:03 PM on December 23, 2007 [1 favorite]

Can you explain any more about the toothache? While the dentist is always the best option, there might be some reasonable temporary home remedies to consider, but that'd depend on what actually is the problem.
posted by wackybrit at 2:21 PM on December 23, 2007

I've been in this situation....except it turned out to be a sinus infection. I went to the E.R., and was glad I did. In the meantime: Ice, ice, ice.
posted by Rich Smorgasbord at 2:27 PM on December 23, 2007

Rite Aid do a product called Liquid Orasol which contains 20% Benzocaine - I'm sure other pharmacies will do a similar product. It won't help your friend in the long run, but is excellent for temporary dental pain relief.
posted by forallmankind at 2:55 PM on December 23, 2007

Years ago I went to the dentist with a nasty abcess. He prescribed anti-biotics for the infection and told me to take a dose of 4-6 200ml ibuprophen for the pain. It worked. Also there is a topical anisthetic called Oragel that helps with toothaches.

If you can't get to a dentist, you can do a lot to fight the infection by gargling with diluted hydrogen peroxide solution.
posted by Huplescat at 3:05 PM on December 23, 2007

nthing cloves, I wouldn't chew them whole though, that sounds like it could exacerbate any irritation you have. Take a handful of cloves, put them in a mug and pour boiling water over them, like tea. Leave it to steep until it's cool enough to rinse your mouth with. Should numb you up right fast. Oil may work better, but it's a little "Is it safe?!" for my taste.
posted by Iteki at 3:20 PM on December 23, 2007

Gargling with salt water might help too, it's a disinfectant.
posted by Coaticass at 3:32 PM on December 23, 2007

Nthing cloves, too. I know people who chew one for a toothache, but the "tea" method is probably much easier to stomach.
posted by rokusan at 3:36 PM on December 23, 2007

Your roommate may have a heart condition of which he/she may or may not be aware. If this is the case, an abscess can be deadly within hours. It's best to get a professional to look at it forthwith to determine whether antibiotics are needed. Anyone telling you to hang on for the rest of the weekend or try home-medicinals is playing with fire. Google "emergency dentist Tampa" or go to the hospital.
posted by TheGoldenOne at 3:38 PM on December 23, 2007

Also, because I'm nice, here's a link to an emergency dentist in Clearwater.
posted by TheGoldenOne at 3:41 PM on December 23, 2007

Try taking cold/sinus medication to relieve any pressure that might be worsening the pain, especially if it is an upper tooth.
posted by InkaLomax at 3:49 PM on December 23, 2007

Thorough rinsing with mouthwash and warm saltwater can help, along with the above mentioned remedies.

An ER visit is certainly in order. He can at least get some pain meds, which will help him rest. And it's better to be safe than sorry in the case of a larger problem, as TheGoldenOne mentions.

I've been there and it sucks. Good luck.
posted by The Deej at 3:51 PM on December 23, 2007

I was in the same situation about three weeks ago. The only thing that would work was cold water. Ibuprofen will take the edge off, but if it is an abscess the pain won't go away. I had to have an emergency root canal, antibiotics, and finally a crown this week. The root canal won't hurt nearly as much as the tooth ache, and the pain will stop fairly soon. If you wait too long you can risk a lot of nasty stuff as mentioned above. Above all do not wait until Christmas day when your only option will be the emergency room!
posted by kscottz at 4:18 PM on December 23, 2007

Anyone telling you to hang on for the rest of the weekend or try home-medicinals is playing with fire.

Sure, a cardiac issue can be triggered by abscess, but this is rare in comparison to the total number of toothaches out there. Dismissing home / temporary remedies is as impractical as saying they shouldn't go to the dentist as they might be involved in a traffic accident en route. Indeed, there's probably more risk of death that way than riding an abscess out for a day or two if accessing a dentist is highly impractical.
posted by wackybrit at 4:21 PM on December 23, 2007

I should also mention.. if it is an abscess (and the OP has not stated this) a last ditch remedy can be to attempt to drain it or dry it out yourself. I have temporarily done this a few times with good effect, but it only works if you are reasonably experienced with mouth hygiene and have a good set of dental tools (a mirror and a pick, at least). On molars it can be possible to gently pull back the skin around the tooth and apply pressure to drain some of the pus. This is not without its own dangers though!

Alternatives to going that far are to routinely perform a salt wash on the area and/or get some chlorhexidene-based mouthwash in as close as possible. These are likely to be only temporarily useful in most cases, although I've had a permanent heal on one abscess using these techniques (drainage with pick, and then applying chlorhexidene and doing salt washes multiple times daily). It's also very important to maintain a good diet or at least consume healthy fruit juices and vitamins at this time, as a knocked down immune system will make an abscess far worse!

Disclaimer: I am not a dentist. I'm just an amateur who has done a lot of reading and had good success with resolving multiple temporary dental problems, although ultimately I rely on my dentist to do the job properly!
posted by wackybrit at 4:29 PM on December 23, 2007

The *dine swabs or liquid, available on the shelves at Giant/CVS/etc. They are like magic in a box. One of those will take the pain away (completely, quickly) long enough for some ibuprofen to set in, and then your roommate can reassess the situation with a clear head. Also, they can help assess where the pain is really coming from.
posted by anaelith at 4:42 PM on December 23, 2007

Terrible dental history speaking here:

Apply benzocaine [otc from any drug store], chew cloves, and ice your cheek.
Also, pinch the webbing between thumb and forefinger [one hand at a time].

Also yell a lot, maybe kick a wall, or [this sounds worse than it is at the time] poke a sterilized pin along your tooth down into your gums. I know it's probably not good for you, but it works better than anything else for me.
posted by Acari at 4:50 PM on December 23, 2007

12 root canals here.

definitely get on antibiotics. clove oil applied with a cottom swab.

and for the pain -- this works beautifully, recommended by a dentist, but do not overdo -- two tylenol and one advil taken together.

please keep us posted. toothache, as i can tell you, is the worst.
posted by sdn at 5:10 PM on December 23, 2007 [1 favorite]

That sounds like an abcessed tooth. I slept on an ice bag and went to the dentist in the morning. They will want the victim on antibiotics for 24 hours before they pull it usually, so he probably wants to find someone today and get started on that. If he goes to the ER, they probably can refer him to somebody who is open on Monday. (The assumption here is that it's an abcessed tooth. YMMV.) The tipoff here is how bad is the pain. If he's laying in bed wondering which would hurt worse, this or pulling it with the pliers in the garage, that's an abcessed tooth. IANAD.
posted by unrepentanthippie at 6:36 PM on December 23, 2007

Urgent Care or ER for pain meds and antibiotics if they'll give it, plus ice and whatever *caine you can get at the drugstore. The ER might give an injection of something, but it won't last very long.

I will reverse sdn's advice to two ibuprofen (anti-inflammatory) plus one acetaminophen. IANAD, but it'll get you through the night if there's no existing kidney or liver issues. (IANAD again, but prescription-strength ibuprofen is 800mg. I'm just saying.)

I find rocking helps, along with the ice, *caine, and OTC pain/inflammation remedies. I imagine bullet wounds might be worse than tooth pain, followed closely by severe earache. I have had a bad unemployed couple of days with an abscess, and your roommate has my utmost sympathies. I had some unused Vicodin around those couple of days; all I can remember is watching Buffy on DVD and rocking in my recliner. I also chewed on a series of clean wet washcloths, but I have to think that pressure, for as good/bad as it feels, is probably a really bad idea.

There are McDentist chains that tend to be open when other dentists are not. Maybe do some web-surfing tonight and see if you can find somewhere to get in tomorrow.
posted by Lyn Never at 6:53 PM on December 23, 2007

similar to sdn, alternating doses of tylenol and ibuprofen every 2-3 hours works well too. That helped me get through a similar situation last week when I could take only limited doses of NSAIDs due to stomach issues.
posted by cabingirl at 7:51 PM on December 23, 2007

tell him to drink some bacardi cyclon straight from the bottle while watching soccer tapes. tell him it's alright to scream once every twenty minutes.

last toothache i had i did that, and i remember it sort of fondly.
posted by kickback at 7:53 PM on December 23, 2007 [1 favorite]

This is real late to the party (I hope your roommate is feeling better and has gotten some relief, btw). I had a horrible, horrible abscess and my dentist gave me a short course of antibiotics (amoxycillin I think?) and Tylenol-3 (yep, the yummy codeine kind). The main thing is that your roommate can't be on any old antibiotic, it has to be one that can nuke the anaerobic bacteria teeming in his jaw. Penicillin won't cut it.
posted by brain cloud at 8:14 PM on December 23, 2007

"Sure, a cardiac issue can be triggered by abscess, but this is rare in comparison to the total number of toothaches out there."

I had the misfortune of a getting the heart murmur diagnosis during my first experience with an abscess tooth. Any advice other than "seek medical attention immediately" for an infection that is causing severe pain is just silly.

I'm not saying not to swish miscellaneous home remedies on your way to the dentist, but do it on the way to the dentist. However, suggesting someone drain his own abscess is pretty lousy advice. Maybe when you're out in the wilderness (or Great Britain) without any alternative... but you're in Tampa. Go to a dentist.
posted by TheGoldenOne at 8:42 PM on December 23, 2007 [1 favorite]

Put a dry regular tea bag between the gum and the cheek. This will bring down the swelling.
posted by brujita at 10:59 PM on December 23, 2007

I'm not saying not to swish miscellaneous home remedies on your way to the dentist, but do it on the way to the dentist. However, suggesting someone drain his own abscess is pretty lousy advice. Maybe when you're out in the wilderness (or Great Britain) without any alternative... but you're in Tampa. Go to a dentist.

If we all followed that line of thinking, nearly every answer on this site would be "get a lawyer," "go to the doctor," or "find an expert and ask them." If someone is asking a question on AskMe and is of sound mind, clearly they feel such Captain Obvious answers aren't what they need just now.
posted by wackybrit at 2:15 PM on December 24, 2007

« Older tubing near Truckee   |   Never the twain shall meet Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.