If you have a toothache, a hot cup of coffee may be the last thing on your mind. However, the caffeine in that coffee could actually help dull the pain until you can get to the dentist. Of course, instead of drinking a cup of coffee, you should look for caffeine as an ingredient in your pain-killer of choice.
Why Caffeine Gets a Bad Reputation
When you first consider treating a toothache with caffeine, you may think that it will make your pain worse rather than relieving it. This is because caffeine is usually associated with drinks that will exacerbate tooth pain. Most Americans get caffeine from either hot beverages, such as coffee and tea, cold beverages such as sot drinks, or sweets with chocolate in them.
Hot beverages can worsen a toothache if you have an infection in the tooth. This is because the heat may cause increased blood flow to the area, resulting in a pulsing or throbbing pain. Cold can cause issues if your enamel is eroded to the point that you have exposed pulp. When the cold hits a nerve, it can cause a sharp, intense pain. Sugar, whether it is in a hot drink, cold drink, or a chocolate-treat, can increase the acidity of your mouth and wear away at your already weakened enamel.
This means that most of the common ways you consume caffeine will make your toothache worse. However, the caffeine itself, when taken in a pill along with other pain medication, can potentially reduce your pain.
How Caffeine Works to Relieve Tooth Pain
Caffeine works as a pain reducer in three ways. It blocks the neurotransmitter that tells your brain you are experiencing pain, it stimulates your body to produce pain-reducing chemicals, and it stimulates your central nervous system in a way that changes the way you interpret pain. It is important to note that each of these methods for pain reduction are ways of blocking your perception of pain. It does little to fix the source of the pain.
For this reason, you should consider pairing caffeine with nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAID) to reduce inflammation and ease the cause of your toothache. Many over-the-counter NSAIDs offer an option that includes a moderate dose of caffeine. If you have an abscess along the gum-line, a warm compress may also help alleviate the cause of the pain.
If you are experiencing a headache from caffeine withdrawal and are unable to drink your usual coffee due to a toothache, an over-the-counter NSAID may be able to ease your tooth pain while getting rid of your headache. However, you may want to brew a cup of coffee anyway, as the smell can also help relieve the withdrawal symptoms you may be experiencing.
When Caffeine Can Increase Pain
While caffeine may help some people suffering from a toothache, it can also exacerbate the problem. Because caffeine is a stimulant, it can cause you to clench your jaw. This can increase the pain you experience if you have a problem in one of your molars that has affected the nerve that runs along your lower jawline. It can also cause problems if you begin to apply pressure to the problem area by grinding your teeth.
If you find caffeine causes jaw clenching, you may want to stop taking it or practice relaxing your jaw by taking a deep breath and exhaling with enough force to slightly puff out your cheeks. You may have to do this several times, whenever you notice yourself clenching your jaw. Jaw clenching can also be a sign of dehydration, since caffeine is a diuretic. To prevent dehydration, you should drink plenty of water.
The best way to stop your tooth pain is to see your dentist as soon as possible and get the source of the problem taken care of, but a dose of caffeine may hold you over until you can get to their office. If you are looking for a new dentist, try checking out http://www.cretzmeyer.com.