Maintaining your oral health requires both strong home care habits and regular dental hygiene appointments for professional preventive care.
In non-emergency situations, a home remedy may serve you well – particularly as an interim solution until you can see your dentist.
1. Knocked-out or broken tooth
Whoops, you’ve had an embarrassing face plant. Worse yet, you broke — or lost — your front tooth when your face hit the floor. Losing a tooth is an undeniable emergency, but there are some interim steps you can take to minimize the damage.
Home remedy (interim)
If it’s a baby tooth, no action needs to be taken. Sometimes, a baby tooth can even be knocked in, but will re-emerge on its own.
If it’s a permanent tooth, gently rinse the tooth in water, but avoid touching the root. If possible, place the tooth back in the socket until you can get to a dentist. A tooth can be placed back in the socket has a better chance of survival. It’s very important not to let the tooth dry out; if you are unable to place the tooth back in the socket, submerge it in water and get to the dentist as soon as possible.
If the tooth was broken or cracked, but not entirely dislodged, try to collect any broken pieces; it may be possible to repair the tooth with bonding material using your original fragments.
2. Mouth ulcers or canker sores
How can something so small be so uncomfortable? Mouth ulcers or oral canker sores can be quite painful and aggravating.
Warm salt water rinses are helpful to soothe the discomfort associated with cankers or oral sores.Over the counter products like Oragel can reduce the pain as well; be sure to dry the area prior to applying the product.
Also avoid spicy and salty foods, which may further irritate inflamed tissues.
3. Yellowed mouthguard
More important than being visually off-putting, a mouthguard or bite plate that isn’t properly cared-for can introduce bacteria into your mouth and body.
Brush your mouthguard daily with baking soda and water or toothpaste, using a brush exclusively for this purpose. In addition, soak your mouthguard in mouth rinse every other day for approximately 30 minutes. (Warning: Do not use blue mouthwash, as it may turn the appliance blue!)
Each month, do a deeper cleaning to disinfect and remove stains, as follows:
- Place the mouthguard in a solution of 1/3 bleach and 2/3 cool (or cold) water for several hours.
- Rinse it thoroughly, then submerge it in water for 30 minutes.
- Finally, place the mouthguard in mouth rinse for an additional 30 minutes.
- Let your mouthguard air-dry after cleaning.
Note: Never place your mouthguard in boiling water, the microwave or the dishwasher. When not wearing your mouthguard, keep it in the case in a location safe from children and pets.
4. Bad breath
Do you just need to lay off the garlic and onions, or is your bad breath an indication of something more ominous?
Bad breath may be an indicator of periodontal disease or GERD (gastrointestinal reflux disease). Or it could be the result of dry mouth, which (in many cases) can be remedied by simply drinking more water. Thoroughly brushing and flossing daily are also important initial steps to address bad breath and avoid plaque.
Some essential oils (including peppermint, oregano, cinnamon, licorice, and clove) can act as antibacterial agents and improve bad breath, as well as help reduce gum disease that can cause bad breath. Try gargling with a mixture of a drop or two of essential oil in a quarter cup of water.
Certain medications and medical conditions can also cause dry mouth. If the condition is persistent, please contact us to make an appointment.
A pesky toothache can really put a damper on your day. Fortunately, in many cases it’s not a serious concern.
While a toothache may be the result of an irritated nerve in the root of a tooth, it can also be caused by clenching your teeth or by a piece of food trapped between your teeth. First, try rinsing your mouth with warm salt water to disinfect the area and reduce inflammation. If possible, brush and floss your teeth to dislodge any food particles. Then, take Advil (if you can tolerate it, or Tylenol if you can’t).
Pay attention to whether you could be clenching your teeth.
If the pain persists longer than a day or two, it may be time to have your dentist check it out.
6. Lost filling
Perhaps you bit down too hard on that (cringe) peanut brittle, or tugged on (another ouch) a candy apple. Maybe an old filling simply wore out. What should you do if you’ve lost a filling?
Losing a filling is not a dire emergency, but it can cause discomfort and lead to more serious issues. It is best to see your dentist within a few days to prevent a costly, extensive repair — or loss of the tooth.
In the meantime, collect any pieces of the filling, if possible. Brush and floss your teeth and gargle with warm salt water to help prevent bacteria around the exposed tooth. Then cover the exposed area with gauze to prevent sharp edges from hurting your tongue.
7. Aching face or jaw
Assuming you haven’t had oral surgery or a specific injury, facial pain or an aching jaw is most often caused by clenching teeth. Especially while asleep, clenching or grinding teeth can be very damaging to your teeth and gums.
Since clenching is frequently a result of stress, you may be able to reduce your pain level with some stress reduction methods. Try daily exercise, deep breathing/meditation, or a relaxing shower before bed to decrease the amount of stress that may cause you to clench while sleeping.
Most likely, you’ll need to be fitted with a custom mouthguard to ensure that your teeth stay in alignment and to prevent long-term damage that clenching and grinding can cause. Please contact our office for a consultation.
If you have questions about the merits of home remedies for your dental health, please don’t hesitate to ask.