At-Home Remedies for Toothaches

It can happen at virtually any time and often without warning — a sharp pain while brushing your teeth, eating, or just generally going about your day. The discomfort and pain of a toothache can derail your schedule and make everyday tasks uncomfortable. A toothache makes it hard to eat and smile, and the mere thought of brushing your teeth sends shudders down your spine.

If you’re too busy for a trip to see us at Alegria Dental Care or your toothache strikes when we aren’t open, you’re left caring for this toothache on your own. It may sound daunting, but don’t despair. There are many at-home remedies to treat your toothache and manage your pain before your appointment with Stefanie Sunnes, DMD, at Alegria Dental Care.

OTC painkillers

Use over-the-counter painkillers as your first layer of pain management. Take your typical dose as soon as you feel the toothache starting in a bid to soften any incoming pain. Your preferred painkiller suffices here, so feel free to take ibuprofen, acetaminophen, naproxen, or aspirin. Children 16 years and under should not take aspirin.

If the pain is especially stubborn, you can go back and forth every three hours between acetaminophen and the other three drugs. Do not take ibuprofen, naproxen, or aspirin within eight to 12 hours of each other.

Cold compress

It may not feel like it, but your blood flow actually has something do with pain. The science behind it is pretty simple: Cold temperature constricts your blood flow, reducing the amount of blood that reaches the area. The slower the blood reaches the affected area, the less likely it is to pool and cause pain. It’s the same science that applies to swelling and bruises.

A cold compress slows the blood flow to your gums, which are likely inflamed and pressing against your tooth. The end result is pain reduction in two ways. The cold naturally numbs the area to blunt the pain and the restricted blood flow reduces swelling.

Make a cold compress with an ice pack from your local drugstore or use a plastic bag of ice.

The rinses

You can also try using a warm saltwater rinse and a hydrogen peroxide rinse. Although they use different materials, the basic principle is the same. When you swish the rinse around in your mouth, you help dislodge any debris or food particles that could be stuck between your teeth. The salt and hydrogen peroxide also act as natural disinfectants and have been shown to reduce inflammation and heal oral wounds.

Use both rinses like you would mouthwash. For the saltwater, mix a half-teaspoon of salt into a glass of warm water. When using hydrogen peroxide, add equal parts water and 3% hydrogen peroxide solution.

Natural remedies

Toothaches existed long before dentists or painkillers. Our ancestors were surely thankful for the bountiful natural remedies shown to help with toothache pain.

Peppermint tea bags are known to help numb tooth pain away. As an extra bonus, the menthol in peppermint tea also acts as a disinfectant. After warming the tea bag in hot water, let it cool for a bit before pressing it on the affected area.

Clove, thyme, aloe vera, garlic, and wheat grass also have a history of easing tooth pain. If you have a favorite natural remedy, there is a good chance it can help sooth your hurting mouth.

Notice anything missing from these remedies? All of them are meant to sooth, not fix, a toothache. Only a dentist can cure a toothache and give you tips on preventing more pain.

Make an appointment with Dr. Sunnes as soon as your toothache starts. With years of experience in non-invasive dental techniques, she has the tools and know-how to treat your toothache. Make an appointment online or call Alegria Dental Care today. Your mouth will thank you.  

Do I Need A Tooth Extracted?

Although your second set of teeth are supposed to last for a lifetime, there may be occasions when tooth extraction is necessary. It can come as a surprise and be a terrifying prospect, but we only ever recommend extraction as a last resort here at Alegria Dental Care. If there’s a way to save your tooth that won’t affect your dental health, we’ll find it.

When it’s a permanent tooth that needs to be pulled, it’s usually down to one of five common causes. Let’s look at what they are and why extraction is necessary in these cases.

Damage or decay from gum disease

We can resolve most dental decay through fillings and better hygiene, but sometimes the damage is so severe, the only option left is for us to extract the affected tooth. This is usually the case when the decay has reached the center of your tooth and is invading the pulp. This is painful and can lead to infection.

While a root canal procedure can help treat the infection and prevent the decay from spreading further, sometimes it’s already too advanced and the best treatment to prevent more pain and discomfort is to extract the tooth.

Extraction can reduce the risk of infection

Infection of your gums is the earliest sign of periodontal disease and can cause bleeding when you brush your teeth. If this isn’t caught early, the disease can progress into its more advanced stages when the infection spreads to your periodontal ligaments, alveolar bone, and other critical structures that support and surround your teeth and jaw.

Sometimes periodontal disease can cause your teeth to loosen as the infection spreads, and this can mean that a dental extraction is necessary.

Overcrowding of your teeth

This is a common problem for teenagers and young adults where your teeth may be perfectly healthy, but your jaw is too small to accommodate them all. When there isn’t enough space for your teeth to move and align properly, it can cause overcrowding and crooked teeth.

Extracting teeth can create sufficient space for the remaining teeth to settle properly and prevent misalignment issues. It’s often part of orthodontic treatment to ensure that when braces and aligners are used to correct issues, the lack of space won’t complicate the treatment and cause other problems further down the line.

Impacted wisdom teeth

A tooth impaction is when a tooth is blocked from coming out and is a common problem when it comes to wisdom teeth. Blocking can be caused by overcrowded teeth or gums not fully erupting to allow the wisdom tooth to drop into its natural position.

Sometimes the best course of action is to surgically extract the impacted wisdom tooth to prevent it from causing damage to your other teeth, reduce pain, and eliminate the risk of infection that impaction can cause. We’d only do this as a last resort after taking x-rays of the impacted wisdom teeth and assessing whether there are other treatments we can use to remedy the situation.

Trauma from an injury

Accidents can happen, and it’s not unusual for your teeth to be affected, whether it’s a car collision, sporting injury, or other incident. We always strive to preserve your teeth through crowns or veneers, but sometimes the damage caused is too severe and extraction is the only option to prevent damage to your adjacent teeth and jaw.

Whatever the reason you need a tooth extraction, it’s important that you have it as soon as possible to prevent making your dental issues worse. You can be sure that you’re in the safest hands with Dr. Stefanie Sunnes here at Alegria Dental Care.

Why Invisalign® Is a Great Choice for Straightening Teeth

Your confidence can suffer when your teeth are out of alignment. You may find yourself smiling with your lips closed or hiding your mouth behind your hand when you laugh. If you’re ready to smile proudly again, look no further than Invisalign® to help straighten your teeth.

Because she understands that you feel more confident when your smile is at its best, Stefanie Sunnes, DMD, provides Invisalign® at Alegria Dental Care in Houston, Texas. Learn how Invisalign® clear aligners improve your oral health and effectively straighten your teeth while causing little inconvenience to you in the process.

Benefits of straighter teeth

Straighter teeth can help you feel more confident and attractive, and when you share a beautiful smile with the world, you leave a memorable first impression. In fact, one study showed 48% of adults said they remember someone’s smile more than what that person said or wore. Crooked teeth, unfortunately, can cause others to perceive you as less appealing.

Properly aligned teeth not only look more attractive, but they also help your mouth stay healthy. When your teeth are crooked, they can cause numerous problems with your oral hygiene and overall health, including:

  • Tooth decay and loss
  • Gum disease
  • Problems chewing or speaking
  • Jaw issues

Genetics, injury, and thumbsucking are a few of the causes of crowded, crooked, or misaligned teeth. Invisalign® is a great choice to straighten teeth because it can correct all of these issues and more.

Effectiveness of Invisalign®

Invisalign® uses customized, removable aligners to straighten teeth in stages. The Invisalign® system is highly effective at addressing numerous issues with your teeth and jaw. It can improve mouth irregularities such as:

  • Overbite, underbite, and open bite
  • Gapped teeth
  • Crowded teeth

It can also help you achieve generally straighter teeth if you have just a few, slight misalignments you want to address.

It’s common to fix tooth and jaw issues in the early teenage years, and braces seem like a rite of passage for preteens. Invisalign® is an excellent choice for tooth alignment because it provides an option that lets you avoid a mouth full of metal, and it works effectively no matter your age, as long as your teeth are healthy.

Clear aligners are becoming more popular, but they’re not all the same. Invisalign’s® aligners use SmartTrack® material, which helps guarantee their comfort and effectiveness. The aligners fit precisely to your teeth to ensure the proper movement of your teeth as they straighten.

Depending on your treatment plan, it may take up to 15 months or longer to reach your goal; however, you start to notice the effects of Invisalign® after a month or two. With each new set of aligners, your teeth look noticeably closer to your new, beautiful smile.

Easy, convenient treatment

With Invisalign®, you can straighten your teeth with minimal inconvenience to your appearance and lifestyle. You wear your aligners for at least 20-22 hours per day but don’t need to worry about unsightly wire braces or brackets. You simply remove the aligners when you eat and brush your teeth, and, unlike with braces, you don’t have to avoid certain foods like popcorn.

When you come for your first appointment, Dr. Sunnes creates a 3D scan of your teeth — no uncomfortable molds — and the Invisalign® system plans your treatment and even shows you your projected results. Dr. Sunnes meets with you again when your aligners arrive at her office so she can check their fit and answer any questions you still have. You advance to a new set of aligners every week or two, and Dr. Sunnes schedules regular checkups to monitor your progress.

That’s it. No complex tightening of wires, no lengthy appointments, and no intrusion on your lifestyle. If you think Invisalign® could be the right choice for straightening your teeth, don’t wait to call the Alegria Dental Care office or book an appointment online.

Tips For Speeding Recovery after Undergoing a Tooth Extraction

When a tooth extraction interrupts your life, of course you want to heal as quickly as possible. At Alegria Dental Care, we want you to know how to speed up the recovery process so you can get back to your normal life.

Dr. Sunnes recommends following these six tips to shorten the recovery time after undergoing a tooth extraction.

1. Take it easy for at least two days

Plan to take at least two days off from work. You should spend the first day relaxing as much as possible. Stay in bed if you can, but prop your head up to prevent excessive bleeding.

During the second 24 hours, limit your activity as much as possible.

Your extraction site needs time to heal, so give it the opportunity it deserves.

2. Keep the gauze in place over your extraction site

After getting your tooth extracted, Dr. Sunnes typically puts a piece of gauze over the extraction site. The gauze helps minimize bleeding so a clot can form.

You should only touch the gauze when it’s soaked with blood and you need to replace it. Otherwise, you should leave the gauze alone to help a clot form.

3. Use ice packs and take ibuprofen to reduce swelling

If your face swells after your tooth extraction, you can use an ice pack to relieve the pain. Apply an ice pack for about 10 minutes at a time. You can also take ibuprofen to reduce swelling and pain. You should not, however, take aspirin.

4. Stick to soft foods for a few days

During the first couple of days after your surgery, you should limit your food choices to liquids like water, soups, and shakes. Eating food that requires chewing could disturb the extraction site or knock the blood clot loose.

Once your mouth starts to recover, you can eat soft foods like mashed potatoes and pudding. Don’t try to eat solid foods, though, until your extraction site has healed.

5. Don’t suck on anything (especially cigarettes)

Sucking on a straw, candy, or anything else can dislodge your blood clot. If the blood clot comes loose, it could add a day or more to your recovery time.

Most importantly, don’t smoke cigarettes or use e-cigs. The smoke can slow healing and increase your risk of dry socket, an infection that can cause considerable pain for up to a week — even with treatment.

6. Take all of your antibiotics

If Dr. Sunnes prescribes antibiotics after your tooth extraction, follow her instructions and take all of the medications. You may feel completely healed before you’ve finished the supply, but finish up the medication unless she advises you differently.

Not taking all of your antibiotics could put you at risk of a painful and difficult-to-treat infection, adding time and misery to your recovery.

Make an appointment at Alegria Dental Care if you experience problems

Following these tips add to your chances of the speediest recovery possible after your tooth extraction.  But if you feel like you’re not healing according to schedule, come back to Algeria Dental Care so Dr. Sunnes can look at your progress. She may be able to clean the extraction site to promote healing or give you a prescription medication that dulls the pain.

Contact Dr. Sunnes by sending us a message on our secure website. You can also call our office in Houston at 281-393-0881. We’ll find a convenient time for you to come in and get your extraction site looked at.

Be Proud of Your Smile This Year With New Veneers

A new year is an opportunity for a new and improved you.  Why not start with your smile? After all, your smile tells people a lot about you. A dazzling smile is very becoming. It tells the world you’re brimming with confidence and ready to live your life to the fullest.

Damaged teeth can rob you of that confidence. You feel self-conscious, hide behind your hand, and try not to show your teeth. If broken, discolored, and slightly crooked teeth are holding you back, you owe it to yourself to consider changing the appearance of your smile with dental veneers.

How veneers work

When you begin the process of improving your smile at Alegria Dental Care, Dr. Stefanie Sunnes talks with you about your expectations and desired outcome, as well as any concerns you may have. Together, you and Dr. Sunnes choose the most natural color for your new veneers.

Dr. Sunnes cleans your teeth and removes some of the enamel so that the veneers adhere thoroughly. An impression of your teeth is sent to the lab, where your new veneers are made. You’ll be fitted with temporary veneers to protect your teeth, now enamel-free, until your next visit.

Your new, permanent veneers are attached at a subsequent appointment. Dr. Sunnes ensures the proper fit and appearance of your veneers, answers any questions you may have, and instructs you on the care of your beautiful new smile.

Best candidates for veneers

If your teeth are damaged by trauma or decay, you’ll benefit from dental veneers. New veneers also improve your smile if your teeth are discolored by certain medications, or deeply stained. If you have gaps between your teeth, minor overcrowding, or even some bite-related issues, veneers can help.

Advantages of veneers

Your beautiful new veneers keep the structure of your natural teeth. This results in a completely natural-looking smile, without the discomfort sometimes associated with bridgework and dentures.

Veneers are great for closing gaps between your teeth, and can even provide a straighter, more even appearance. Your dazzling new veneers are also fairly stain-resistant and they strengthen the resiliency of your natural teeth.

Although you typically require a few appointments to complete your veneers, the process involves minimal discomfort and very little downtime.

Caring for your new veneers

Another advantage of enhancing your smile with dental veneers is they encourage better dental care habits. Many patients say their attention to oral hygiene has improved greatly since getting veneers. Such careful attention prevents decay, keeps your gums healthy, and gives you even more reason to smile.

Caring for your veneers is easy. There’s no special care, beyond the care you’d normally give your natural teeth. Dr. Sunnes may suggest a night guard if you’re prone to grinding your teeth at night. You’ll also want to ensure your veneers are performing as they should by keeping your twice-yearly dental checkups at Alegria Dental Care.

Take pride in your beautiful new smile

Get the look you’ve long desired with new veneers for the new year. At Alegria Dental Care, we take pride in the smiles we help put on our patients’ faces. Dr. Stefanie Sunnes uses cutting-edge treatments to perfect even the most damaged teeth. Dr. Sunnes and the team at Alegria Dental Care can help you realize your New Year’s goal of a perfect and dazzling new smile with dental veneers. Contact Alegria Dental Care today and let’s get started on your beautiful new smile.