Easing Dental Pain

Sep 11, 03:47 PM

by Katharine Koeppen, RA

Last week I found myself suddenly scheduled for oral surgery to remove an abcessed and impacted molar. Ouch! Although I have a wonderful dentist and equally terrific oral surgeon, I've had a great deal of previous dental trauma, and don't tolerate anesthesia well. Needless to say, I was apprehensive about the procedure.

I'm not alone. Visits to the dentist do not invoke positive associations in many people, but there are some holistic interventions that can make dental procedures less painful and speed your recovery.

Roman chamomile (Anthemis nobilis) is a potent analgesic, and applying it to the jaw or cheek prior to and immediately after any procedure can help cut down on post-op pain. Application can be done dilute in a carrier oil or in the form of a compress. I favor cold compresses to reduce post-op pain and swelling. You can add a little cypress oil (Cupressus sempervirens) to help relieve edema. Apply a fresh compress several times daily for the first few days after surgery.

Cypress essential oil is also effective in rapidy eliminating bruises from a poorly placed IV needle or an extensive surgery. Again, use cold compresses or a dilute topical application of oil.

Helichrysum (Helichrysum italicum) hydrolat has cellular regenerative properties, is anti-inflammatory, and fairly analgesic. I like to soak a sterile gauze pad in the hydrolat and have a client bite down on it immediately after a dental procedure. Helichrysum can help ease bleeding from an extraction, and replacing the hydrolat-soaked pads regularly for the first few hours after surgery will speed healing of the gums. For the first few days after your dental visit, you can also gargle with hydrolat. It doesn't taste very good, but for me it's been more effective than a salt water gargle (Just be sure to spit it out after gargling!).

Many people have jaw or neck pain after having to sit through a dentist visit with their jaw open for an unusual length of time. Dilute application of lavender (Lavandula augustifolia), sweet marjoram (Origanum majorana) and/or Roman chamomile can help with muscular aches and pains. Don't discount the help of a qualifed massge therapist who is trained in intraoral work... they can help with pain managment after dental procedures, and those who are trained in lymphatic drainage therapy can even use techniques that will speed the elimination of anesthesia from the body. This is particularly important for those who have difficulty processing topical, IV, or general anesthesias and may feel numb or sluggish for days or weeks after dental surgery.

A trip to the dentist is never fun, but you'll be bouncing back faster and happier with the help of a few essential oils. And aromatherapy is a lot healthier than lollipops!

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