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Dr. Ellison's Blog

Posts for tag: pain

By Dr. Ellison
September 10, 2018
Category: Health
Tags: Dentist   pain   mouth   canker sore   aphthous ulcer  

Recently my granddaughter experienced a canker sore, not an uncommon occurrence for her, but this one was on her throat. The pain was excruciating, more so because of the location. It hurt to swallow, to speak, and pretty much hurt constantly. It even kept her awake at night. Canker sores, also referred to as an aphthous ulcer, are small, shallow sores inside the mouth, under the tongue, cheeks, or along the gums.These lesions are usually no larger than a centimeter, are usually self-diagnosed and self-treatable and often clear up within a week or two, but the common point is they can be quite painful and irritating. I have seen patients from children to adolescents to adults who get them, but they seem to be more common in adolescents and young adults. The treatments, when necessary, range from over the counter natural remedies to mouth rinses, pastes ointments or sometimes a prescription medication.

Canker sores have varying causes, but can sometimes be prevented. Some people are more susceptible, so avoiding spicy or acidic foods, mouth injuries (like brushing too vigorously), and minimizing stress could help. Canker sores are not directly caused by a virus or bacteria, but are an autoimmune response, meaning the body attacks itself.  In some cases, they could be caused by a vitamin or mineral deficiency, a hormonal imbalance, or a food allergy. Some medications can actually make certain individuals more prone, as in the case of some cancer treatments. Canker sores can even be hereditary. Determining the cause is not always easy, although doing so will help prevent them in the future. This is of little comfort to people when they already have one or are unable to directly attribute the cause to any of the aforementioned.  

If and when I get the rare canker sore, I use a prescription oral paste to relieve discomfort. There are many different treatments and remedies I have heard of and some I have suggested. Rinsing with warm water and baking soda or salt, rinsing with an over the counter antiseptic  oral rinse like Biotene, drinking chamomile tea with honey for the inflammation (not too hot), using an over the counter oral gel, ointment or paste. Clove oil has been shown to have fantastic ability to numb pain. My daughter uses clove oil and other essential oils for her canker sores with excellent results. As for my granddaughter and her canker sore on her throat, she found Chloraseptic sore throat spray brought the most relief. If you happen to get a canker sore you can try one of these suggestions or your own remedies. If you have recurring canker sores or some that last longer than fourteen days it could require more than an over the counter pain reliever and further investigation.


By Dr. Ellison
February 19, 2016
Category: Health
Tags: Dentist   teeth   wisdom   impacted   develop   erupt   extraction   pain   swelling  

You might wonder who came up with the name “wisdom teeth” for the third molars. While the exact answer to that may be unknown, perhaps it isn’t such a coincidence that these teeth are the last adult teeth to come in, typically arriving between late teens and mid-twenties. According to research, the pre-frontal cortex portion of our brain is not fully developed until after age 25. That clever timing feels like a pun.  It is not possible to determine the way wisdom teeth will erupt (appear visible), if they will be correctly positioned and functional, but there needs to be enough room to accommodate them inside the mouth. An exam and x-rays can help to assess that, but oftentimes there is just not enough room in the jaw to allow for the wisdom teeth to erupt and remain healthy.

We refer to wisdom teeth that do not have enough room to come in and develop properly as impacted.  When wisdom teeth are impacted, a patient can experience symptoms such as swollen and red gums, tenderness, jaw pain, bad breath or an unpleasant taste in the mouth. It’s common for the mouth to be unable to sustain the crowding that occurs with the third molars, causing them to become stuck. An impacted wisdom tooth can be slightly visible (partially impacted) or not at all (fully impacted). Either way, the teeth might grow straight or at an angle which can cause various problems like damage to surrounding teeth due to pressure; tooth decay because these teeth are much harder to access; infection or gum disease caused by bacteria or inflammation in the area.

In some cases, wisdom teeth cause no obvious symptoms or trouble, but because they are harder to reach and clean they may be at risk for complications down the road. Impacted wisdom teeth that cause pain or any other dental problems need to be surgically removed (extracted). However, some dentists and oral surgeons will recommend removing them even when they are not causing symptoms in an effort to prevent likely problems in the future.

Extraction of wisdom teeth is usually performed as an outpatient procedure. You may have either local anesthesia or sedation anesthesia to numb your mouth. Through an incision in the gums, the tooth is removed and then the empty space (socket) is closed with stitches and packed with gauze. Patients can sometimes have some pain and bleeding or possible swelling of the area, though they receive instructions on caring for the incision area and managing the pain, such as using a cold compress and taking pain medication.

Some may conclude that it is wise to remove the so called “wisdom teeth.”