5 Ways to Avoid a Painful Toothache

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.

Foods and Drinks to Avoid If You Have Sensitive Teeth

Tooth sensitivity isn’t uncommon. Some patients tend to have weaker teeth than others as a result of genetics, trauma to their teeth or bad habits such as poor diets, inadequate oral hygiene or tobacco use. While not every case of tooth sensitivity is a symptom of tooth decay, it is a good idea to have it checked out by your dentist to be sure. Most tooth sensitivity is temporary and is triggered by foods and drinks that are extremely hot or cold and/or contain a high amount of sugar. Chronic sensitivity to a variety of foods and drinks should be looked at by a dentist as it can be caused by tooth decay or another dental issue. Having sensitive teeth can be extremely uncomfortable and should be taken seriously, especially if it is negatively affecting one’s everyday life.

Whether this is your first bout with sensitive teeth or you’re experiencing another flare-up, it is a good idea to avoid the following foods and drinks that can trigger the pain and discomfort and make the sensitivity worse.

Ice Cream. This favorite dessert combines the double whammy of being cold and being packed with sugar. Those with sensitive teeth often lack the protective, enamel layer of their teeth, which exposes their teeth’s nerves to the extreme cold. The similar resulting pain and discomfort also happens with cold beverages and chewing ice.

Acidic Foods. Foods such as citrus and tomatoes that contain a high amount of acid can aggravate sensitive teeth as well as weaken the enamel further. Drinking fruit juice can also cause the same discomfort and tooth damage because it contains a high amount of sugar in addition to the acid.

Hard Candy. Lollipops, suckers, mints and other kinds of hard candy can chip teeth or scratch tooth enamel making teeth more sensitive, weak and more prone to decay.

Sticky Foods. Peanut butter, fruit snacks and sticky candies like toffee and caramel can leave tooth destroying sugar on the teeth, which can be bad news for those with sensitive teeth. The sugar stuck on and in between teeth can seep into the cracks and weak areas of the enamel and penetrate the underlying nerves of the dentin layer, increasing the discomfort of tooth sensitivity.

Ice. While chewing ice may be refreshing on a hot summer day and offers guilt-free, no calorie snack, the hardness of the ice can chip and scratch tooth enamel and the cold temperature of the ice can aggravate exposed tooth nerves that have resulted from sensitive teeth.

Soda. A refreshing Coke or root beer on a warm day may sound like the perfect companion to your refreshing salad or not-so-healthy pizza. However, soda, even diet soda has both acid and sugar which can lead to further destruction of one’s teeth and can heighten tooth sensitivity.

Coffee. Hot coffee can make the discomfort of one’s teeth sensitivity worse by the heat penetrating the weakened tooth enamel and the exposed nerves. Adding sugar to your coffee will make matters worse as the additional sugar will likely lead to further tooth damage, and therefore, worse tooth sensitivity.

Tooth sensitivity isn’t fun and the discomfort can range from mild inconvenience to almost debilitating pain. Whether or not one’s sensitive teeth is caused by tooth decay or not, certain foods and drinks can make one’s discomfort and sensitivity worse as well as weaken and cause more damage to one’s teeth.

While sensitive teeth are not always something to worry about, it is highly recommended that patients visit their dentist first and have their teeth looked at to be sure their sensitive teeth aren’t the result of tooth decay, a tooth abscess or another dental issue.