WHAT ARE THE 3 COMMON DENTAL PROBLEMS THAT OUR PATIENTS EXPERIENCE AND WHAT WE CAN ADVICE TO TEMPORARILY ALLEVIATE THEM?
As dentists, we always advice our patients to visit us to professionally address their dental conditions, however, this pandemic has changed the landscape of how we can help our patients especially if it is not yet an emergency case and something that we can schedule to see them at a later date. As we try to manage our appointments and decide the best way to handle our patients to minimize our exposure to this virus, we are stoke on how we can treat our patients with minimal or no contact through Teledentistry. This give us limitations as far as what we can personally do to address their immediate chief complaints and provide relief, hence, I decided to tackle the issue of DIY's dental treatments that are evidence-base for 3 of the most common conditions and what we can do to advice them.
As we all know bad breath is such an embarrassing condition and our patients may not even know they have it. We deal with it according to the main cause of it. So, the general advice we can give that they can personally handle are the following:
(a) Watch Out for the Food they Eat and Observe their Digestion
- The food they eat can adversely affect their breath. Garlic, onions, cabbage and certain types of spices may result for them to have halitosis as these suspected food is absorbed in the bloodstream after digestion. As the blood is transferred to the lungs, the smell of the food will be emitted as they exhale.
- Tell them to check on their daily bowel movement as poor digestion resulting to constipation and bowel disorders can contribute to their bad breath. Advice them to drink at least drink eight 8-ounce glasses of water, which is equal to about 2 liters, or half a gallon. This is called the 8×8 rule.
(b) Good Oral Hygiene
Brushing, Flossing and Use of Mouthrinse are in order. They are all sound simple and banal but they are only effective if they do them properly. Just like washing our hands, it is only now that we do it properly because of the pandemic, otherwise, a lot of us don’t even do this properly. To guide them, they can go here:
SHARE THIS TO YOUR PATIENTS FOR EASY EXPLANATION: 5 Best Oral Hygiene Advise and, this 5 BEST Dental Health and Oral Hygiene TIPS from an EXPERT
(c) Stop or Avoid Bad Habits
They have heard it before and they will continue to do it if they don’t want to stop, however, it is still good if we will mention it again to them. Smoking will never do them any good, so, if they want to relieve themselves of having a bad breath, then, they have no choice but to stop them.
(d) Oral Conditions
My Mom has been suffering from dry mouth or xerostomia due to Sjogren's syndrome for such a long time that I have searched for so many products that will relieved her from severe coughing due to this.
This is not a paid advertising and I will not get a single cent in promoting these products, but what truly works for her are the following:
- Xerostom of YoTuel
- Aquapick Whitening Toothfoam for Mouthwash
For a much serious conditions such as periodontitis or severe tooth decay wherein abscess is present, then, it is up to us to decide whether to immediately see the patient for treatment or not.
See this for further discussion of us just deciding to treat dental emergencies - CLICK THIS: Significance of Delayed Dental Treatment that Negates the Mouth-Body Connection
(e) Medical Conditions
If you diagnosed through their medical history that the cause of their halitosis is outside dental condition such as the following:
- ➢Lung Infections - bronchitis; bronchiectasis
- ➢Stomach Disorders like hiatal hernia, Zenker's diverticulum, and pyloric stenosis
- ➢Blood Disorders that cause bad breath
then, it is best to advice the patient to consult with a physician to manage the underlying medical disorder.
We all know what to advice our patients how to prevent tooth decay, but, what if the tooth decay already exists, it’s causing discomfort to our patient and we can’t immediately treat them? Pain from tooth decay generally occurs in the evening because when we lie down our blood rushes to our head. This extra blood in the area may increase the pain and pressure that our patient will feel more their toothache. So, what’s our best advice to our patients to temporarily relive their pain while waiting an appointment with us:
(a) Oral Pain Medication
This is our common route for our patients to have at least a quicker pain relief. Commonly medicines we can prescribed are Acetaminophen or Ibuprofen or Paracetamol or Mefenamic Acid to name a few that can effectively reduce mild-to-moderate toothaches.
(b) Cold Compress
Cold compress may help ease the pain of a toothache. Advice them to apply a bag of ice wrapped in a towel to the affected side of the face or jaw helps constrict the blood vessels in the area, which can reduce pain to allow a person to fall asleep. Applying cold compress to the area for 15–20 minutes every few hours in the evening may also help prevent pain when going to bed.
(c) Elevate When Sleeping
Pooling blood in the head may cause additional pain and inflammation. There are a lot of cases that shows elevating the head with an extra pillow or two may relieve the pain enough for them to fall asleep.
(d) Medicated Ointments
There are certain medicated ointments that may help reduce toothache pain. OTC numbing gels and ointments that contain ingredients such as benzocaine may numb the area. However, benzocaine is not suitable for use by young children.
(e) Salt Water or Hydrogen Peroxide Rinse
A simple salt water rinse is a common home remedy for a toothache. It is a natural antibacterial agent that may reduce inflammation. Thus, helps protect damaged teeth from infection. Doing this may also help remove any food particles or debris stuck in the teeth or gums.
Another option you may advice is for your patient to dilute food-grade hydrogen peroxide with equal parts water. Swish the solution in the mouth, but do not swallow it. This is not advisable to children. This will help if the pain is coming from periodontitis that generally occurs as a result of poor oral hygiene.
(f) Peppermint Tea
Research shows that peppermint is both antibacterial and antioxidant compounds. Its active ingredient is menthol, thus, it may cause mild numbing effect that can help on your patient’s toothache. This is done by swishing peppermint tea or sucking on peppermint tea bags that temporarily relieve pain from a toothache.
One of the main compounds in cloves is eugenol and we all know that eugenol acts as an analgesic, which means that it numbs the area.
To use clove for a toothache, soak ground cloves in water to make a paste. Then, apply the paste to the tooth, or put it in an empty tea bag and place it in the mouth. Alternatively, gently chewing or sucking on a single clove and then allowing it to sit near the painful tooth may help relieve pain. Kindly just warn your patients that this is not a suitable remedy for children, as they may swallow too much clove and single cloves can be spiky and painful if a person swallows them.
There are actually drops that your patient can buy from the drugstore that contains clove oil with camphor, chlorobutanol and creosote or just straight out eugenol.
Garlic contains allicin that has a strong antibacterial effect that may help kill the bacteria in the mouth that lead to cavities and tooth pain. This is done by simply chewing a clove of garlic and allowing it to sit near the tooth may help relieve pain. Having said that, the taste of raw garlic can be too strong for some people, so this may not be the right solution for everyone plus it doesn’t help in the problem mentioned in #1
Common mouth sores are canker sores (aphthous ulcers) that occur inside the mouth and not on the lips. They are not contagious and can be triggered by many different causes. They are only a concern if they don't go away after two weeks.
Fever blisters or cold sores are caused by the Herpes simplex virus and occur on the edge of the outer lips. They are contagious and will come and go but are not completely curable.
Mouth sores are also seen in oral thrush or candidiasis, a yeast infection of the mouth that can be seen in infants, denture wearers, people with diabetes, and during cancer treatment.
These conditions definitely can cause hassle and pain to our patients. I’ve experienced more than once and what truly works with almost no pain is the application of Daktarin ointment. It immediately numbs the area and heal in a matter of few days. There are home remedies we can advice like potassium alum or tawas and salt diluted water but buying an ointment is the less and quicker option to address this condition.
There are cases or situations even before this pandemic that we do provide advises that our patients can do at home when we cannot immediately see them and these home remedies are as much relevant now more than ever. As we tackle on how we can properly organize the way we see our patients and the number of patients we can handle in a day, let's at least provide them DIY home remedies that does work and do have research that's at least scientifically sound and will be safe for them to do. This does not negate the fact that they still need to see us especially in cases that these DIY's cannot handle anymore their symptoms until we treat the cause, but, at least these can alleviate their pain and discomfort until then.
Dr. M. Jean Villanueva - Editor | Writer