Home guide for simple problems

Everyone's home guide to common dental problems

Is that pain a sign that all hell is about to break loose or will it go away?

This is a general guide to the most common home treatable dental pains. If you have swelling and/or throbbing, continuous, nasty or spontaneous pain you need to call for an appointment now!

Tooth brush abrasion

Symptoms- hot, cold and often sweet sensitivity up near the gum line. It may be there for a week then disappear for a while before coming back

Signs- gum is pushed up allowing the yellow of the root to show. There may be a horizontal groove at the gum that you can fit your fingernail in.

Why- you have exposed fresh vital dentine that will take time to become desensitized

Treatment- STOP SCRUBBING YOUR TEETH, brush gently and thoroughly. After brushing, place a small amount of toothpaste for sensitive teeth on the affected area and leave it there to soak in.

Sinus pain

Symptoms- lingering ache of the upper premolars and molars. Pain changes when you change your head position, e.g. bending down to pick up something from the floor or lying down, the pain gets worse. Pain in the sinuses as such is not always obvious.

Signs- pain from putting pressure on the cheek bones.

Why- nerves from the upper premolars and molars run along the floor of the sinus and when the sinus gets full of sludge, positional change leads to the sludge sliding around and putting pressure on the nerves.

Treatment- hit the chemist for some kind of sinus clearing medication

TMJ-Jaw joint pain

Symptoms- pain just in front of the ear, difficulty opening wide and/or closing. The jaw may not feel like it is in the right place. It can be worse when you wake up, but may ease as the day goes on.  Can be associated with a headache in the temple region. Jaw can lock in position and need a wiggle to move again.

Signs- clicking noise from the joint. Deviation from the midline on opening.

Why- you have sprained your joint (sleeping in a funny position can be enough to do this) which leads to muscle pain and swelling

Treatment - Read the factsheet on jaw joint problems and try the exercises.

Gum pain

Symptoms- Feels like an ache rather than a throb and it hurts in a specific place rather than a vague pain. The gum is often red and tender and there may be a pressure feeling.

Signs- redness and puffiness of the gum

Why- food or plaque gets caught under the gum and causes a local infection

Treatment- floss the area under the gum even (especially) if it is tender. It may bleed, this means floss more regularly. Rinsing with warm salty water can heal it faster. If not better within a day or two – call for an appointment.

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