Oral health is something that we might not think too much about, until something goes wrong. Maintaining good oral health doesn’t have to be difficult, but it’s so important for our appearance and our overall health.
- 1 How to keep your mouth healthy
- 1.1 Brush properly
- 1.2 Eat and drink smart
- 1.3 Visit your dentist regularly
- 1.4 Tooth extraction
- 1.5 Common reasons for tooth extraction
- 1.6 Your mouth is overcrowded
- 1.7 Infection
- 1.8 Gum disease
- 1.9 What happens when a tooth is removed?
- 1.10 What to do after you have had a tooth removed
- 1.11 Dry socket
- 1.12 What causes dry socket?
- 1.13 The symptoms of dry socket
- 1.14 How can you treat dry socket?
- 1.15 Ice
- 1.16 Clove
- 1.17 Tea Bags
- 1.18 Water
- 1.19 Turmeric
- 1.20 Tea Tree Oil
- 1.21 Yogurt
- 1.22 Lemon
- 1.23 Chamomile
- 1.24 Valerian
- 1.25 Garlic
- 1.26 Apple Cider Vinegar
- 1.27 Boiled Potatoes
- 1.28 Ice Cream
- 1.29 Salt and water rinse
- 1.30 Hydrogen Peroxide
- 1.31 Peppermint
- 1.32 Neem
- 1.33 Final thoughts
How to keep your mouth healthy
Brushing your teeth correctly is the most important thing you can do to prevent tooth decay and gum disease. A good brushing technique will remove bacteria and plaque. Here’s how to brush thoroughly:
Angle your brush at 45 degrees and brush up and down gently in a circular motion. Don’t brush too hard as this can damage the protective tooth enamel.
Clean the entire surface of every tooth. Make sure you get the chewing surface, the cheek side, and the tongue side.
Spend 2 minutes cleaning your teeth to make sure you cover all areas.
Use a soft brush with rounded bristles, and replace the brush every 3 months.
Clean between your teeth
Food particles and bacteria can cause decay if they are not removed from between the teeth. Floss every day, or use interdental brushes to get rid of any debris.
Eat and drink smart
Bacteria feeds on sugar, so by reducing sugar in your diet, it will minimise the amount of bacteria in your mouth. If you want to eat something sweet, do it at mealtimes, and chew sugar free gum afterwards.
Try to keep acidic foods to a minimum. Acidic foods wear away tooth enamel which makes the tooth more vulnerable to decay.
Smoking harms the teeth. It can reduce blood flow to the gums and makes you more vulnerable to infections. It also significantly increases the risk of oral cancers.
Visit your dentist regularly
Some plaque can harden and requires professional removal. If you don’t see your dentist regularly, the plaque can continue to build up and cause gum disease, and even start to cause bone loss. Your dentist can easily fill a small cavity, but a large cavity can leave you needing to have the tooth removed.
And there are also bigger health consequences of not looking after your teeth. Gum disease has been linked to heart disease, as bacteria from the mouth can end up in the bloodstream and end up damaging the heart.
Adult teeth are meant to last a lifetime, though damage and decay can lead to a tooth, or teeth, having to be extracted.
Common reasons for tooth extraction
Your mouth is overcrowded
A dentist might need to remove teeth in order to fit orthodontics, like braces, correctly. Also if the teeth are crowded and they are starting to cross over each other, removing a few teeth might encourage them to spread out.
If tooth decay spreads to the centre of the tooth which contains the nerves and blood vessels, bacteria can enter, and this can cause an infection. If the infection is serious, the tooth will need to be removed to stop it spreading.
If periodontal disease has caused the teeth to loosen, your dentist may have to remove the teeth.
What happens when a tooth is removed?
Your dentist will usually give you an injection containing local anaesthetic to numb the area from where the tooth is going to be removed. If you are getting a lot of teeth removed, a general anaesthetic may be used. The dentist will give the anaesthetic time to work, then they will use forceps to remove the tooth from the jaw bone and surrounding ligaments. If the tooth is hard to remove, it can be removed in a few pieces. When the tooth is removed, a blood clot will form in the empty socket. The dentist will pack this with gauze to stop the bleeding. Sometimes, you may get stitches to close the area up. Sometimes the blood clot in the socket can break loose, and the socket is exposed. This is a painful condition called dry socket. The dentist will use a special dressing to cover the socket if this happens.
What to do after you have had a tooth removed
You will usually need a few days to recover. There are a few things that you can do to minimise discomfort, reduce the risk of infection and promote healing.
Take painkillers such as ibuprofen or paracetamol.
Bite gently on the gauze to reduce bleeding. Follow the advice from your dentist about how long you should keep the pad in place.
Apply ice to the area for 10 minutes at a time to minimise swelling
After around 6 hours after the extraction, rinse your mouth with a solution of salt and water to reduce the risk of infection.
Eat soft foods such as soup or yoghurt the day after the tooth is removed. Gradually add solid foods to your diet as your mouth heals.
It is normal to feel some pain after having a tooth removed, but if it is severe, or if bleeding continues for more than 4 hours after having the tooth removed, call your dentist.
If you experience intense pain after having a tooth removed, and it doesn’t go away after a few days, it might be a condition called dry socket, or alveolar osteitis, to give it its proper name. This only affects a small number of people, but it is treated easily.
Only a very small percentage of people develop dry socket after a tooth extraction. In those who have it, though, dry socket can be uncomfortable. Fortunately, it’s easily treatable.
What causes dry socket?
When you have a tooth removed, a blood clot forms in the socket to protect the bone and nerves. If the clot dissolves or moves out of place somehow, the bone and nerves can be exposed to air, food, or anything else that enters the mouth. This can lead to intense pain and infection.
The symptoms of dry socket
If you look at the extraction site, you will see bone instead of a dark blood clot. You will experience pain around 48 hours after the extraction, and it can become very intense. You may feel it radiating to your ear. You can experience bad breath and an unpleasant taste in your mouth.
How can you treat dry socket?
You can take anti-inflammatory drugs to ease the pain. If these aren’t strong enough, see your doctor who will prescribe something stronger.
When you see your dentist, they will clean out the socket, and then fill it with a special dressing or a paste. You might need to have the dressing changed a few times while it heals. You will most likely have to use a medicated mouthwash and take antibiotics to get rid of the infection.
As well as the usual treatments, you can try these home remedies to ease your discomfort and promote healing.
Ice is a simple, but effective home remedy for dry socket. The cold can numb the nerves and reduce inflammation which should help to reduce the pain. Try this:
Put some ice cubes in a cloth and apply it over the affected area for a few minutes at a time.
You can also use cool water. Soak a thin and soft towel in cold water and apply it to the affected area for 15 minutes. Repeat this 3-4 times per day.
Clove has anaesthetic and analgesic properties that can help to ease the pain of dry socket. Use this remedy before the pain gets too bad. Clove oil is most effective. Try this:
Soak a cotton ball in clove oil and apply it to the affected area for one minute. Rinse the mouth out with warm water. Repeat this a few times per day for best results.
Tea contains a compound called tannic acid that can reduce pain. Try this:
Put a tea bag into hot water.
Let it brew for 5 minutes, then take the tea bag out and keep it in the fridge in about 15 minutes.
The cold tea bag should be placed on the affected area. Rinse the mouth out with warm water.
Drinking plenty of water can help to keep your mouth clean and it can also help to reduce pain and swelling. Aim to drink 2 litres of water per day.
Turmeric is a natural antiseptic, so it can stop the growth of bacteria in the mouth. Try this:
Put some turmeric into a cup of warm water.
Stir it well and rinse your mouth with the mixture several times per day.
Tea Tree Oil
Tea tree oil is a well-known antibacterial and antiseptic oil. The oil is often used to combat bacterial infections in the mouth. The efficacy of tea tree oil for the treatment of dry socket was demonstrated in a 2007 Brazilian study. Try this:
Soak a cotton ball in water, then add a few drops of the tea tree oil. Apply it to the affected area, leave on for 5 minutes then rinse with warm water.
Yoghurt is packed with good bacteria which can help to inhibit the growth of harmful bacteria in the mouth. Try eating a few pots of yoghurt per day, and even better, it’s an easy food to eat if your mouth is painful.
The acidity of the lemon can help to fight bacteria, and when it is mixed with salt, its ability to fight infection is supercharged. Try this:
Squeeze the juice from one lemon. Mix it with a little salt. Dip a cotton ball into the mixture and apply it to the affected areas.
Chamomile is a well-known soothing herb. It helps to fight inflammation and relieves pain. It can also treat bad breath, as this can occur when you have dry socket. Try this:
Mix a tablespoon of chamomile leaves into a pan of boiling water
Allow the leaves to steep for about 10 minutes.
Strain the tea, then drink it twice per day for a few days until the discomfort reduces.
Valerian is a well-known sedative, but it’s also a good pain reliever. Mix valerian root with hot water and apply it to any painful areas of the mouth. Valerian root is effective in inducing sleep and sleep can help the body to heal from the tooth extraction and infection. Try this
Add some dried valerian root to a glass of boiling water
Allow it to steep for about 10 minutes.
Dispose of the roots and consume the valerian tea twice a day for a few days after the extraction.
Garlic is a natural anti-inflammatory and antibiotic so it can reduce pain and swelling, and prevent infection. Try this:
You can chew some fresh garlic cloves to combat bad breath and fight infection. Chew the garlic for a few minutes, then spit it out and gargle with water.
Apple Cider Vinegar
There are compounds in apple cider vinegar that can combat bacteria in the mouth. Try this
Mix equals amounts of the vinegar and water together.
Rinse your mouth with this mixture several times each day.
Boiled potatoes are soft, so they are easily chewed and easily digested. Potatoes contain a lot of vitamin C which promotes healing and boosts the immune system so your body can fight the infection.
The coldness of the ice cream works in a similar way to cold water and ice cubes to numb pain in the mouth.
Salt and water rinse
Rinsing the mouth with a mixture of warm water and salt can reduce swelling and relieve pain. Salt is a known powerful antibacterial agent. It is recommended that you rinse the mouth out with salt water from the day after you have the tooth extracted. Try this:
Mix some salt with a cup of warm water
Stir the mixture well until the salt is dissolved.
Rinse your mouth with the solution a few times per day.
Hydrogen peroxide is an effective disinfectant. It can help to prevent the growth of bacteria and relieves pain. It can also get rid of a dry mouth and bad breath. Try this:
Add a cup of hydrogen peroxide to four glasses of water. Mix it well.
Rinse your mouth with this solution up to 4 times a day for a few days.
The menthol in peppermint has a mild anaesthetic effect which can reduce pain. Also, it has a refreshing aroma that can help to treat bad breath. Peppermint is used in a lot of products that are used for oral health such as mouthwashes and toothpastes for these reasons. Try this:
Soak a cotton ball in water, then dip it into peppermint oil. Rub the affected area with the cotton wool. Leave it on the affected area for 10 minutes and rinse your mouth with water. Repeat the treatment twice per day for up to 3 days.
Also known as Indian Lilac, neem has many healing properties. It’s a natural antifungal and antibacterial agent and so it helps to reduce the risk of bacterial infection. It is also an anti-inflammatory agent so it can help to ease pain and reduce swelling. Try this:
Prepare some fresh neem leaves and wash them with clean water. Crush the leaves into a paste, and rub the paste over the affected area. Leave it on for a few hours then rinse the mouth with warm water. Repeat this twice per day for a few days.
Oral health is important, not just because it makes your mouth look more attractive, but it impacts on your overall health too. Most people tend not to think about their oral health until something goes wrong, but if you smoke, eat sugary or acidic foods, don’t take care of your oral hygiene, and don’t visit your dentist regularly, you’re taking a risk. Decay or damage to the teeth can lead to gum disease, bone loss, and tooth loss. Not only that, gum disease has been linked to heart disease, as bacteria from the mouth can end up in the bloodstream, where they can make their way to the heart and cause damage.
Good oral hygiene does not have to be hard work. Brushing the teeth correctly, flossing daily, avoiding sugary foods, and visiting your dentist regularly can all help to keep your smile healthy.
Adult teeth are meant to last forever, but damage and decay can lead to your dentist recommending that a tooth, or teeth, are extracted. A tooth extraction can be painful, but ordinarily pain is easily managed. When pain does not go away after a few days, or it is severe, you might have a condition called dry socket. This does not affect many people, but it can occur when a protective blood clot dissolves or is dislodged. Luckily, the pain can be managed with medication, dressings from your dentist and some genius natural remedies which will help to reduce swelling and pain, and get you on the road to recovery.