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Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Is it safe? Yes.

I usually save the non-political posts for the weekends. But right now, I would like to pass along a life-saving tip -- one with no political implications whatsoever.

Over the past week, I've had to deal with a major toothache, accompanied by a major lack of cash: There was enough moolah to yank the tooth, but not enough for anything fancy like a root canal. I really want to save this tooth, or at least keep it in my head until I have sufficient cash to deal with it properly.

Now, you can't walk into the doctor and ask "Will you just write me some scrip for a goddamned opiate-based pain reliever?" The doc will take that as an indication that you're looking for happy pills, even if he can see clear signs of inflammation. Nowadays, even if you are obviously in severe pain, most dentists will simply prescribe ibuprofin, which is available over the goddamn counter.

So I scoured the internet looking for every home remedy and OTC treatment available. They all ranged from ineffectual to sorta-kinda-semi-effectual. None of them did the trick: Not Ambusol, not cloves, not gargling with salt water, not vanilla (although that one did help more than most of the others), not apple cider vinegar (although that worked even better than vanilla did).

At last, I found the answer. Instant relief. Root canal in a bottle. A doorway out of Hell.

Peppermint extract.

It is strong. It smells foul. The fumes will annoy your housemates. But daub some extract on the affected tooth with a Q-tip, then place a few drops -- no more -- on your tongue and swirl the liquid around the throbbing side of your mouth. Soon, you'll be feeling no pain.

I'm not kidding. You never know when you'll have to suffer through a really bad night. That's why you need an emergency supply of peppermint extract in your house. Combine that stuff with about 1000 mg of Ibuprofin, some Aspirin and some Naproxen, and you just might regain your humanity.

Of course, if we had a Euro-style health system, we wouldn't need to worry so much about home remedies. I guess this is a political post after all.
are we talking peppermint extract as in the baking section of the supermarket, or the homeopathic section of a vitamin store?

You can sometimes get low-cost dental treatment at a dental college.
Sorry for a possible double post, I think I forgot to hit the publish bar.
The Canadian system covers health care dental and vision insurance is usually picked up, all or in part, by the employer.
I'm not sure how much is covered in the U K or on the continent.
There's the rub, if we had a real print and broadcast media instead of the shills at Fox and the toady clowns at MSNBC we would know how it's done over seas.
The one thing I do know is that the citizens of the countries that have a single payer or national system look at health care as a right for all and not just the moneyed elite.

You been watching "Marathon Man?"
Naproxen is not recommended for use with NSAIDs of the salicylate family (Aspirin) (drugs may reduce each other's effects) or with anticoagulants (may increase risk of bleeding).

1000 mg is a frigging overdose specially if combined with the other ones. 400 mg ibuprofen every 4 hours is sufficient (don't exceed that dose within 24 hours). Avoid aspirin when you're on it (rather take paracetamol), but take 1 mg when the last 4 hours period has waned. Joe, you put a tremendous strain on your liver (whatever you do don't booze at the same time) and risk an internal bleeding in the worst case. Try to disinfect your tooth with 6% oxygenated water or even better with any mouthwash containing an antiseptic like chlorhexidin....

if it doesn't work after 3 days, you're in serious trouble and should seek help anyway.
If its a molar, don't bother with the root canal. They often don't take, and even when they do will usually fail 10-15 years later requiring an apicoectomy, or pulling (and they dont' usually bother with apicos, either, because they will always need it again).

Trust me, 20 years ago, I had a RC done. 10 years later, it was failing. One year ago, I had it pulled.

Had I known then, I would've had it yanked.
If we had a universal type health care you'd still wait for months before you could get a root canal. Good idea to still keep the peppermint oil around. Especially considering that, at some point, all otc "meds" will likely be regulated and charged off as "drugs" so the pharmaceuticals won't have competition in the drug market.

Oil of cloves works good too, but probably tastes nastier. Good luck, nothing worse than a toothache, ugh.
I HAVE insurance, I pay a lot for it (in terms of my salary) and I'm still having to deal with all those co-payments of crap from last summer's assault. Having private insurance doesn't even free you from being overwhelmed.

When I say I feel your pain, it's both literal as well as empathetic. Right now, I need to go see a doctor but the thought of adding more to that balance just really keeps me home and suffering.
If it's infected you might want to get some Amoxicillan. Check out "Fish Mox" on Amazon.
Good to know. I had an excruciating tooth problem a while back that needed a root canal. I found that 4 ibuprofen liquid gels on a regular basis eliminated all pain.
leloup, 400 mg won't touch the pain. Megadoses can Might as well take nothing. Doctors have told me told me that it is safe to combine ibuprofin and naproxen, but they may have been wrong.

lonnie, you believe a lot of silly things. I used to have a Canadian girlfriend with health issues; I've been up there, have spent a lot of time in Canadian hospitals talking with her doctors and talking with her family ABOUT health care. Don't think for one second that you can scare me. They have a wonderful system.

I do agree though that more drugs should be OTC. The public needs more drug availability and information, not regulation.

Barbara, I'm talking about the baking stuff. I just happened to have a selection of extract bottles which a friend got rid of.
Be careful, though, because the infection can kill you if it gets into the bloodstream.

I've used a dental college for years--it's definitely much cheaper. It takes longer because the students are inexperienced, but the teachers are all up on the latest research.

There's a new technique in Britain that grows new teeth. Sounds weird, but ...

Carolyn Kay
Be careful of the combined total dose of Ibuprofen+Naproxen (+Aspirin). Ibuprofen and Naproxen are in the same chemical class and act via essentially the same mechanism.
NSAID toxicity:

You’re probably aware of this, but avoid high doses of Acetaminophen. It’s one of the leading causes of OTC mortality (liver failure). Some have even argued for taking it off the OTC market.
Acetaminophen toxicity:

Seems that for tooth pain, the more effective remedies use some combination of menthol (as in peppermint oil), benzocaine (e.g. Orajel/Anbesol), and eugenol (e.g. Red Cross Toothache Medicine). A lot of people seem to swear by Red Cross (85% eugenol).

I’ve used freshly crushed cloves of garlic (which also has weak antibiotic properties, and seems to help heal oral sores), but I doubt the pain-relieving effect would be strong enough in a case like yours.
I would say the same thing [and btw I've become the Queen of dental procedures over the years]--I'm glad you've found something to cut the pain but don't let a badly infected tooth go too long. The infection can spread and be very, very nasty.
I had a molar that would send me to the ceiling if I only drew a sharp breath across it. I used Goody's Tooth Powder from Walgreen's. IIRC it's acetaminophin so all the liver damage cautions apply, but it worked. You pour it right on the tooth instead of swallowing it, so it's likely that chewing up a pill would work as well. This worked too well, actually-- I didn't go to the dentist for another year, and by then the tooth was dead and they could do nothing but extract it.
Yes, it's safe, very safe. So safe you wouldn't believe it.
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