It has been said that there is no pain worse than a toothache. Images of what people will do to deal with this are branded into our consciousness through movies like Cast Away with Tom Hanks, Marathon Man with Dustin Hoffman, and many others. I’m sure that you can think of a few others without trying too hard.
The pain, the throbbing, the agonizing feeling that your head is about to explode are a reality for many at this very moment. I have had women tell me they would rather experience childbirth than the pain associated with a toothache. As a man, I wouldn’t know, but at least with childbirth you have something to show for the experience at the end.
It is also a reality that much of this is entirely avoidable. Here are a few ways to get a handle on this starting right now:
1. Understand that you can have a cavity without experiencing tooth pain. This is probably, the main reason that people get into trouble. They assume that if a tooth isn’t hurting, there must not be anything wrong with it. Nothing could be further from the truth. You can even have multiple cavities — on the same tooth — without pain in the early and moderate stages of decay. How is this possible? It’s simple. The outer layer of your tooth, called enamel, is mineral. It has no nerves and therefore will not send you a pain signal to say it is breaking down.
2. Watch your diet. Avoid sugary foods, drinks, and snacks. Cut sodas out of your diet. The average 12 oz. can of soda contains about as many teaspoons of sugar. Many foods also contain hidden sugars. Foods with bleached flour (think bread, pizza, bagels, cereals, chips, pasta, etc.) are among the stickiest and most acid-forming foods out there. I would venture to guess that the residue following a sandwich or pretzel will probably stick to your tooth longer than a caramel. Bad news if you don’t brush after meals.
3. Develop disciplined oral hygiene habits. Make brushing your teeth after meals and snacks, as well as daily flossing, a part of your daily routine. Many people start out well (especially after a trip to the dentist), but become less disciplined after a few weeks. Very often they will stop flossing altogether, for example. You need to make your hygiene routine as regular a part of your daily habit as eating.
4. Get out of the “emergency” mentality. Some people will only see a dentist for emergencies. You know who you are. So does the dentist. As my receptionist puts it when one of these people calls: “His (or her) head must be on fire.” Emergencies end up costing you far more than preventive care. If you don’t believe it, ask your dentist about the cost of a filling versus an emergency visit that involves a root canal… and then the tooth restoration following the root canal. The latter type of visit usually costs you more than ten times the former.
5. See your dentist regularly. Believe it or not, this actually saves you money in the long-run. Patients that see their dentist at least twice a year are much less likely to experience the high costs associated with neglect than those who see their dentist only when they perceive a problem. There is also the matter of lost income associated with time out of work. Perhaps not least importantly, you will avoid much of the pain and discomfort that comes with abscesses, bleeding gums, broken teeth, and swollen faces.
Take care of yourself. Apart from the health risks involved with infection and the inability to digest your food well when you lose your teeth, tooth pain can put a serious dent in your disposition. It’s hard to be happy when you are losing sleep because of constant throbbing or when you can’t concentrate at work or at home. You can find more tips on how to prevent dental problems and save money while doing so in the article section of my website.