- Oral Health
How To Handle Severe Teeth Problems When You Can't Get To The Dentist
Sometimes You Can't Get To The Dentist
People who have never experienced serious teeth problems will probably tell you to just get to the dentist and get your teeth fixed. This is a great idea when it's possible, but I know the reality of some of these situations. Even with insurance, your teeth can cost you tens of thousands of dollars. You may be able to get a tooth or two fixed if you have some money saved or a good enough credit score for a loan, but it might be impossible to get all your teeth fixed for awhile.
I struggle with this problem daily. I have for years, but there are tricks I've learned to handle the day to day problems of having horrible teeth.
If you can afford to get all your teeth fixed, it's better to do that than to follow the tips below. These tips are just to help you get by until you can afford more long term care.
Long term dental pain usually comes in waves. It's best to get teeth that hurt worked on first, but even if you can't, don't feel hopeless. The infection in your tooth probably just got inflamed for a little while. If you eat soft foods and take pain reliever, it will go down again after a week or so, most of the time.
1. Take Pain Reliever - Anti-inflammatory pain reliever works best. Advil is more powerful than you'd expect at helping your teeth pain and you can get it over the counter.
2. Take Antibiotics - Antibiotics are more important to take than pain reliever and they're cheap, too. When you feel pain, it's due to an infection in your mouth. This infection may be irritating your gums, the roots of your teeth, or your nerves. Antibiotics will fight the infection and take away some or all of your pain, at least for a little while.
3. Numbing Medication - There are sprays or gels you can buy that numb parts of your mouth. Use them after eating and drinking rather than before. Make sure to read all the directions on the package.
4. Use Ice - Ice helps numb areas that are in pain. It also decreases the inflammation.
5. Take Hot Showers - Warm water and steam helps you relax. The more relaxed you are when you're in pain, the less of it you will feel.
6. Sleep A Lot - If you miss sleep, your teeth are going to hurt worse. Getting plenty of rest can help your body keep the infection in your mouth at bay and help you feel less pain. I've gone to bed many times with a tooth ache, only to wake up in the morning feeling a lot better.
7. Get A Root Canal Even If You Can't Afford A Crown - This is a controversial one. Dentists are going to tell you not to do this, but if you're limited by funds, sometimes you don't have a choice. They'll put a temporary crown on your tooth and the root canal will take away all the pain. Your tooth will break after awhile (this has happened to me), but it took me a good two years for that to happen. And when it did happen, it didn't hurt. I haven't felt any pain in that tooth, since the root canal, so even though it's so shattered that I have to pull it now, it was worth it just for the years of pain relief.
A Great Ice Pack For Teeth Pain...
I don't know about you, but I don't have a lot of room in my freezer for ice, so I prefer to keep thin ice packs in the freezer that can fit easily and be used at any time to help with teeth pain flare-ups. What I really like about this set is the fact that it's not expensive and comes with two ice packs, so you can be freezing one while applying the other to your face. You don't want to be stuck with only one ice pack and have to wait for it to freeze again after it melts while you are in pain.
How To Chew
Sometimes chewing seems impossible, but I've learned some tricks to help me over the years.
1. Avoid Certain Foods - Be realistic about what you can and can not eat. Find out what your triggers are. They can be a variety of things like: hot, cold, chewy food, and crunchy/hard food. Eliminate any of these types of food from your diet for awhile if you need to. It's only until you can get all your teeth fixed again and will keep you from feeling as much pain.
2. Chew On Your Best Side - If you have teeth problems on only one side of your mouth, this works best. Don't chew food on the side of your mouth that's causing you the most problems because you'll just make it angrier.
If you are like me and have problems with all your teeth, then your best side might change regularly, even day-to-day. Neither side will be great, but one will probably be better than the other. Chewing on the best side of your mouth allows the aggravated teeth on the painful side to rest for awhile. They'll heal up and bother you less than they were before.
3. Take Soft Food Breaks - Why not try eating only soft food for awhile? Letting your whole mouth rest by eating food that you don't really have to chew can help it heal itself.
4. Drink Water While You Chew - Your saliva helps you break down food even without chewing. If you take a sip of water while food is still in your mouth, it will take this one step further. It doesn't taste bad and it makes your food mushy faster, so you have to do less chewing.
5. Dip Food In Liquid - For example, you can dip cookies in milk or breads in milk. Make sure to always eat your cereal in milk. This will make the food soggier, but will still taste delicious, so you don't have to chew it as much. Let the food soak in the liquid as long as possible before attempting to eat.
6. Suck On Food - My husband and I have eaten chips and crackers before this way. If you suck on certain hard foods like these, they'll go soggy in your mouth. Then when they're really soggy, you chew on them a little bit and then swallow. Minimal work for your teeth!
7. Utilize The Roof Of Your Mouth - Sometimes you can push food with your tongue against the roof of your mouth and break it down that way. This may make your tongue or the roof of your mouth sore after awhile though.
8,. Chew Softly, But For Longer - Biting down on things gently can sometimes stop you from accidentally irritating a sensitive nerve in one of your teeth. But if you do this, you have to take smaller bites and chew longer than normal, otherwise you won't break the food you are eating down enough and you might choke on it. This has happened to me before!
9. Cut Food Into Tiny Pieces - The tinnier the bites, the less you have to chew. I love enchiladas and really wanted to have some, but I couldn't chew them, so I cut up all the meat and tortillas into tiny pieces. (This was a time consuming process, but it was worth it!) I layered the meat, tortillas, and cheese like lasagna. I added enchilada sauce to soak it with and it was actually way easier to chew than if I kept the meat and tortillas whole!
10. Add Gravy Or Sauce - Adding gravy or sauce to food can make it much softer and easier to chew. Like adding gravy to cut up chicken breast or extra spaghetti sauce to cut up spaghetti noodles.
11. Cooking Things A Little Extra - Don't be afraid to overcook your noodles and veggies a bit (but not your meat!), this will make them softer and easier for you to chew.
12. Eat Processed Food - I know, in most instances it's bad to eat processed food, but not when it's hard to chew things! Frozen vegetables are naturally softer than fresh. Canned meats are usually softer than fresh meat as well. White processed bread is easier to chew than whole wheat. You can't always eat the healthier food if it means howling in pain every time you take a bite!
13. Get Teeth Fixed On Only One Side - If you have only a limited amount of money and you're having problems with your molars on both sides, then stick to fixing the teeth on only one side of your face. Your dentist may urge you to jump around, but the goal is to have at least one good side that you can chew with. You can worry about the other side later.
14. Work On Your Molars First - If you are more concerned about chewing right than how your teeth look, then focus on fixing just the back molars. No one will notice the difference visibly, but you'll suddenly be able to chew anything! We do most of our chewing through our molars, trust me, those are my worst teeth and chewing for me is a huge problem! You might not be able to bite into stuff, but anything you have to bite into you can just cut into little pieces instead if need be.
1. What To Do When The Tooth Shard Is Hanging On - I had this problem recently and it was very painful. It's the same as having a loose tooth when you are a kid. Don't yank on the shard if it's stuck, just wiggle it every once in awhile and it will slowly work it's way out of your mouth. When the shard is gone, sometimes the tooth won't hurt any longer either and you might be able to use it to eat again.
2. What To Do When Broken Teeth Are Cutting Your Cheeks Or Tongue - When I had braces when I was younger, they had a dental wax that you apply to the sharp edges of your braces to keep them from cutting your cheeks. You can probably use this same wax if your teeth are sharp enough, to keep your teeth from cutting into your cheek or tongue.
Here's A Good Place To Purchase Orthowax, if you're interested in buying some and trying it....
How To Look Like You Have A Nice Smile
You can look like you have nice teeth, even if you can't afford to get all your teeth worked on.
Work On Your Upper Front Teeth First - People can only see your front, upper teeth when you smile. These are my best looking teeth, so no one has any idea that I have teeth problems unless I tell them. I got my husband's upper front teeth fixed a couple of years ago and in less than a month, he received a promotion.
Having better looking teeth can lead to you being paid more and when you have more money, then you might be able to afford fixing the rest of your teeth. This is not just a vanity issue, it can be practical, too!
The drawback is, if you focus on only these teeth, you might miss out on fixing your molars and those are the main teeth you use when you chew. You're also not guaranteed a promotion.
What To Do If It Hurts To Clean Your Teeth
1. Skip Flossing If You Need To - Sometimes flossing can help pain if something is stuck inside one of your cavities and is stabbing the inside of it. But if it hurts too much to floss, then it's not worth it.
2. Brush With Your Finger - Your fingers won't hurt as much as a brush might. You can put toothpaste on your finger and smear it around your teeth, then spit it out. It's better than nothing.
3. Rinse Your Mouth With Water - If nothing else, you can at least rinse your mouth out with water after every meal. It will help to clean your teeth as well, but not as much.
So you can still keep brushing, even when you are in loads of pain, you should consider buying a toothbrush specially made to help people who have teeth problems and bleeding gums. It might be gentle enough to allow you to brush, even on your worst days.
How To Know It's An Emergency
It doesn't matter how much it cost, fix your teeth now if any of these things happen to you or you might die.
1. You Have Tooth Pain And A Fever - This can be a sign that the infection has spread to your blood and you have sepsis. Go to the emergency room immediately.
2. The Pain Is Spreading Around Your Face - This happened to me before. It's a big problem if you have tooth pain and it hurts so badly, you can feel it in your eye as well as your mouth. This can lead to sepsis which can kill you and even if it doesn't, it can also lead to the nerves of your face getting infected. I was diagnosed with infected nerves by a neurologist when I was suffering from severe pain in my mouth and it hurt really, really badly. It can have odd side effects, too, like muscle spasms in your face.