July 31, 2004 12:27 PM   Subscribe

Toothache. What are some good temporary ways to hold off the pain until dentist time?

I'm at the age where wisdom teeth are becoming a problem, and as luck would have it.. it started on a Saturday morning. This leaves two days before calling the dentist is even an option, and it'll take some time to get an appointment (this is what the UK is like, my friends).

It took me 8 hours to get to sleep last night, and I was in agony. Painkillers didn't help, I tried co-proxamol, paracetamol, and tons of ibuprofen (which is usually recommended for this) to no avail. The tooth in question is half way out, but the other half has a few millimeters of gum to smash through.. and this is the problem (I don't think I need to get it removed, just the gum cut). Swishing around with water helped for a while, but the benefits of this wore off.. now I'm onto clove oil, which is providing the best solution so far, but it won't be long before I get adjusted to this.. I keep reading that warm salt water washes help, but this sounds like something for infections or broken teeth, and not just for generic pain.

So, MeFiers, any wonderful, wacky, or weird treatments to tide me over until dentist time?
posted by wackybrit to Health & Fitness (22 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
have you tried anbesol or any other local numbing agent? I've used it and can tell you that whatever you put it in will become numb. although you have to keep putting it on pretty frequently.

<obligatory snark>
You wouldn't think it would take a long time to get a dentist appointment in the UK, since no one ever goes....right?
</obligatory snark>
posted by bob sarabia at 12:39 PM on July 31, 2004

Touché ;-)

Yeah, I've considered Anbesol, I used to use it on ulcers as a child. Clove oil seems to be doing the same job for me right now, but I think you might be right. Only problem now is with the pain I actually woke up past the chemist opening time and tomorrow's Sunday.. argh!

Oh, and does anyone know what 'teabags' are meant to do? I've read in a few places that teabags can help toothache.. how?
posted by wackybrit at 12:44 PM on July 31, 2004

Try Clove oil

You wouldn't think it would take a long time to get a dentist appointment in the UK

posted by the cuban at 12:47 PM on July 31, 2004

oil of cloves, which can be bought here as anbesol. Rinsing your mouth with salt water.
posted by crunchland at 12:49 PM on July 31, 2004

Anbesol and rinsing your mouth with warm salt water are both good suggestions, as others have said. I've also heard (but have not tried it) that if you chew/suck on teabags it can ease the pain...something to do with the tannin in the tea, I think.

There's no chemist near you open on Sunday? Usually there's at least one.
posted by Vidiot at 1:01 PM on July 31, 2004

Um, well, if you have access to cocaine, put it directly on the affected tooth. It works, trust me. :) Barring cocaine, clove oil or even a whole clove will help a bit.
posted by Lynsey at 1:09 PM on July 31, 2004

I'm probably going to go private anyway. The NHS is useless, my 9 nearest surgeries are not accepting any new NHS patients at all, and those that do will only take in new people who are mentally disturbed or otherwise disabled.

The tenth says they 'sometimes' will accept new patients, hardly encouraging. Other than that single one, there's no dentist within 35 miles of here that's accepting new (health) NHS patients in any form. Yes, socialism sucks, I'll go private and pay like everyone should have to!
posted by wackybrit at 1:16 PM on July 31, 2004

If it's a gum problem, the strongest whiskey (gin, vodka) you can find, applied directly to the affected area, can help temporarily. If some of the hooch happens to find its way down your gullet, it can help even more.

However, in my experience, if the problem is instead due to a rotting tooth, topical application of alcoholic beverages is no good whatsoever. Only internal application seems to work.

If you lived on my street I'd bring over some of the 63% bourbon my gf just brought back from her trip to America.
posted by Tholian at 1:20 PM on July 31, 2004

What about teething gel? If it stops babies crying while their teeth come out, it might work on you! I've been recommended it for localised pain relief (i.e. before an eyebrow-plucking session) but I don't know any more about it.
posted by suleikacasilda at 1:24 PM on July 31, 2004

If you know anyone who has some codeine lying around, use it. Do not combine it with alcohol.
posted by i_am_joe's_spleen at 1:45 PM on July 31, 2004

We have some pills which are a combination of paracetamol and codeine which my father was prescribed when he had tooth problems a few years ago. He claimed they did nothing. With my lack of luck with any other painkillers, and the fact that dentist anaesthetic has never worked on me, I'm thinking that my body is too stupid to pay attention to drugs. I'll give them a shot if nothing improves in a few hours though. Clove oil is just about holding out for now (just).
posted by wackybrit at 2:03 PM on July 31, 2004

The codeine will help, believe me.

If you can, call a doctor / hospital - tell them about your condition and say you heard that Tylenol 3 could help. This also has codeine. Tylenol 3 is given to women during childbirth.
posted by xammerboy at 4:55 PM on July 31, 2004

If you're pretty sure it's the gum, sometimes you can get xylitol [sic?] or some other numbing agent from a doc/dentist who doesn't have time to see you for a while. Also, often sinus problems exacerbate tooth stuff, so pop a few sudafed and see if that helps.
posted by jessamyn at 6:35 PM on July 31, 2004

Barring cocaine, clove oil or even a whole clove will help a bit.

And clove cigarettes help a bit too, plus you'll get to meet all the art students and goth chix.
posted by milovoo at 9:31 PM on July 31, 2004

Try ice water. Sipped, or held in your mouth so it at least is around the region of pain. If this brings a lot of relief, it suggests you may have an infection in there. Otherwise, warm water may help.

Ambesol is a great product, as stated above.

Get a baby's chillded teething ring.
posted by Goofyy at 11:37 PM on July 31, 2004

I believe tincture of cannabis is what you are looking for.

Here's how I do it now: take a one ounce eye-dropper bottle and put about one-half gram of cannabis bud inside. Add Grand Marnier almost to the top, leaving room for the dropper. Screw the top on tight and place the bottle in a pan of water. Bring almost to a boil and leave the bottle in the pan for about three minutes.
posted by estey at 11:46 PM on July 31, 2004

afaik, whisky won't do shit other than making it more fun to be in pain...
I've had a swollen gum for the last 30 hours and I've just returned from the emergency dentist. nothing she could do, antibiotics prescribed, root canal asap.
back to the scotch...
posted by mr.marx at 4:54 AM on August 1, 2004

I had an impacted and infected wisdom tooth with something like an exposed root nerve or some such.

Painful is too small a word for this kind of pain.

The vodka mouthwash was most excellent, but you can sometimes get the same kind of relief from a high-alcohol mouthwash if you'd rather not drink.

I'd explained the situation to my boss at the time and she'd given me blanket permission to keep a bottle of vodka in my desk and get sloshed as needed. That was truly a blessed thing.
posted by loquacious at 7:09 AM on August 1, 2004

The pain from the wisdom tooth ended suddenly on Saturday night. I woke up Sunday morning, however, with a totally new problem, pain when any pressure was applied to the lower 2nd molar. Went to the dentist, turns out I probably have an absess, and he suggested either a root canal, or totally pulling the tooth.. I think I'll be getting it pulled. Currently on antibiotics. Then this evening I've come back here and seen this:

Sipped, or held in your mouth so it at least is around the region of pain. If this brings a lot of relief, it suggests you may have an infection in there.

I think you've got it. When the wisdom tooth stuff was a problem, coldness and ice had no effect. As soon as this other stuff began, cold water worked well. Seems weird an infection would become an issue two days into the whole thing, but perhaps my immune system was down.. :-)

Thanks for your help everybody. Alcohol sounds quite 'neat' (no pun intended) but surely the sugar content could do more damage than help?
posted by wackybrit at 1:36 PM on August 1, 2004

The cold water works because the abcess causes pressure inside, the cold relieves that pressure. I know this from too much experience. Wisdom teeth came in sideways, destroying the molars.

DO NOT have the tooth pulled!!! EXPERIENCE SPEAKING! Its too easy to think extraction is a pain that lasts less time, and much cheaper. Save the tooth. You don't want to go missing molars.
posted by Goofyy at 10:56 PM on August 1, 2004

Ouch. No fun. Happened to me (absess) a few years back. The antibiotics clear up the infection (and pain) pretty quick, though. In the meantime, a plastic bag of crushed ice held on the side of the face when it hurts most is surprisingly effective.
posted by normy at 8:18 AM on August 2, 2004

Goofyy: The molar is rather damaged, so a scaling and root planing has already been recommended. I'll be making sure to get any others repaired though, for obvious reasons! (currently living on OJ and yogurt)
posted by wackybrit at 11:12 AM on August 2, 2004

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