As people look for ways to save money, many turn to home remedies and old wives’ tales for relief from minor afflictions. Take toothaches, for example.
Rumor has it that placing an uncoated aspirin between the affected tooth and the inside of your cheek will quickly relieve pain.
Unfortunately, says Dr. Janice Spada, the results aren’t quite what most people expect.
If you have a toothache, your best bet is to schedule an appointment with your Sudbury, MA family dentist.
Aspirin: Effective When Taken Correctly
Yes, aspirin can provide temporary relief from a toothache, but only when taken orally as directed.
Aspirin, also called acetylsalicylic acid, works by impeding production of chemical substances that cause pain.
Once swallowed—or chewed, as in chewable tablet form—the medication is absorbed by the intestines, then enters your bloodstream. As the medicine is distributed by your blood throughout the body, traveling to the painful area to provide relief.
When you allow an aspirin to dissolve in your mouth, the amount of medication that enters your bloodstream is therapeutically insignificant. Simply put, aspirin is not a topical medication. You could expect the same amount of pain relief from taping an aspirin to your nose.
Unsafe When Used Incorrectly
Think about the name: acetylsalicylic acid. It’s the second word—acid—that causes problems. As anyone who has ever had heartburn or acid reflux can tell you, acid, whether as aspirin or stomach acid, doesn’t play nicely.
When an aspirin remains in prolonged contact with sensitive oral tissue, it creates a chemical burn that feels like a mouthful of heartburn. Now it’s not just a toothache causing you pain. You’ve added a chemical burn and increased the risk of developing an oral infection.
Pain Medication Isn’t the Solution
Medication may provide temporarily relief, but it doesn’t address the underlying cause of your toothache. You wouldn’t dream of taking Tylenol in place of having a broken bone set, so why subject yourself to more discomfort than is necessary?
Your dentist can diagnose the problem quickly, then recommend an appropriate treatment. For example, a toothache caused by decay can be treated either with a dental filling or crown. Root canal treatment may salvage your tooth, sparing an extraction.
A severely damaged tooth may require an extraction, followed by restorative dentistry to avoid problems caused by life with missing teeth.
Don’t delay treatment for dental pain. To learn more about diagnosing and treating toothaches, or to request an appointment with Dr. Janice Spada, contact our Sudbury office at (978) 443-3111.
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