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View Full Version : Why should a kerchief relieve a toothache?



tashirosgt
2010-Feb-22, 03:47 AM
In old movies, we often see a stereotypical representation of a toothache sufferer as someone with a kerchief tied around his head. I speculated that the kerchief was meant to hold something in place like an ice pack or herbs. I thought it implausible that a kerchief by itself would provide any relief.

At the moment I have a toothache myself. It hurts enough so that I'll make a "dental emergency" type appointment with my dentist on Monday. The pain extends up the side of my face to my cheek bones. Of course, I took a pain reliever (Advil) and I'm not completely disabled by the problem.

I took the opportunity to investigate the effect of putting something around my head. I picked a towel. I draped it over my head and am holding it in place by wearing ear protectors. I adjusted the ear protectors so they press against my cheek bones instead of my ears. This does provide some relief. I can't tell whether it simply distracts me or actually decreases the pain. Fortunately it's winter so this head dress isn't uncomfortably hot to wear and I don't expect any visitors today.

01101001
2010-Feb-22, 04:23 AM
How to Treat Toothaches Naturally (http://www.associatedcontent.com/article/1672449/how_to_treat_toothaches_naturally.html)

Better, go to a dentist! But, while you wait for your appointment...


An easier method for treating a toothache naturally is to wrap some ice cubes into a handkerchief or even a paper towel, and simply hold it up against your cheeks. There is a caveat to this natural remedy for toothaches: if the ice begins to make the toothache pain worse than it was before, then for gosh sakes stop doing it! The old ice cubes in a handkerchief method of treating a toothache usually works best in cases where pain is not overwhelming, but even if you have a debilitating case, it may be worth trying.

How to Ease a Bad Toothache (http://www.ehow.com/how_5216055_ease-bad-toothache.html)


Use the warm wet towel to place on the side of your mouth. The heat will help ease the pain alittle. The dry towel helps catch any saliva that you may expell through the process.

From my own emergency medical supplies, once tried with satisfaction: Oil of clove.

publius
2010-Feb-22, 04:39 AM
I can sympathize, as I've had a couple of abscesses go off over the weekend over the past couple of years. I see you're from Las Cruces, NM. Funny, when I was a little lad about 6 years old or so, my parents took a trip, by car, to see my aunt in California. Coming back, I got sick as a dog with a respiratory infection and they stopped at a hospital in Las Cruces. Fixed me right up. I can barely remember it -- just sort of bits and pieces.

At any rate, Advil ain't gonna cut it for the pain -- you need some a lot stronger, and prescrption only. And more than that, you need an antibiotic to kill the raging infection, which again requires a prescription (and knowledge of any allergies and medical histories).

If you were here, I could set you up on both counts if you weren't allegeric to penicillins (and committ a federal crime in the process, but when one is that kind of pain, a pain I know only too well, we wouldn't worry about it :) ).

Get to the dentist or even doctor ASAP and they'll get you set up. If there's one of those 24 hour "urgent care centers" nearby, they might see you tonight. A good antibiotic will start killing the swelling quickly.

The pain is due to the pressure building up from the infection. Sometimes the infection will "bore" a little tunnel in the tissue out to the open, relieving the pressure somewhat.

-Richard

sarongsong
2010-Feb-22, 04:59 AM
Too late for now, probably, but a good addition to any medicine cabinet:
Red Cross Toothache Medication (http://hardtofindbrands.com/cf/products_detail.cfm?ItemNum=5901&search=alpha)


Misery-loves-company Dept.
Savoy Truffle - The Beatles cover
From The Beatles' White Album...written by George Harrison. Apparently...about Eric Clapton's love of chocolate sweets and his resulting cavities and toothaches !!
(02:52)
[url=http://www.metrolyrics.com/savoy-truffle-lyrics-beatles.html]Lyrics (]YouTube[/url)

LaurelHS
2010-Feb-22, 06:14 AM
Sometimes Benadryl (diphenhydramine) can help with a toothache. You get some tablets and crush one of them into powder and then rub it onto the afflicted area of your mouth. This tastes bitter, but after a minute or so the area will start feeling numb. This is just a temporary solution, of course, until you can get medical attention. Publius is right about the antibiotics; I've been given penicillin for a dental emergency before and I started feeling remarkably better within a day.

tashirosgt
2010-Feb-22, 07:21 AM
I'll survive today (Sunday) and see a dentist on Monday. If it gets really bad, I have some Vicodin tablets left from post carpal tunnel surgery prescription, but I'm going to try to avoid using one.

The question that concerned me is why pressure, heat or cold on the surface of the body should have any effect on pain due to internal problems.

And is this what was intended in the practice of wearing a kerchief tied around one's head to treat a toothache? Or was it done merely to keep a persons mouth shut? Or was it a social custom to give a visual cue that a person might not feel like talking?

Tog
2010-Feb-22, 07:46 AM
The acupressure point for treating a toothache is on the underside of the jaw. As you run your thumb along the base of your jaw toward your ear, you will feel a slight notch, just before the end of the jaw (where it curves up). Putting pressure on this point is supposed to relieve tooth pain. It is side specific.

It's never really worked very well for me, but it has worked very well for others that I've talked to. One was a radio DJ that complained about the pain on air. I called in and talked him through finding the point. He said that the pain went away completely and instantly.

It's possible that the handkerchief around the head might press in on that point as it's tied. It's also possible that it's a placebo effect, like when you're young enough that putting a band-aid on a cut makes it feel better.

HenrikOlsen
2010-Feb-22, 07:54 AM
I suspect it may have something to do with reducing the blood supply to the area, which can have a numbing effect, fewer resourced to the nerve cells and they can't fire as fast.
Ditto for the reason why ice works as a pain relief, possibly dual effect from reduced blood flow due to vasoconstriction as well as slower chemical reactions within the nerve cells at the lower temperature.

jokergirl
2010-Feb-22, 02:50 PM
I suspect it might have something to do with relaxing the muscles (keeping the jaw in a closed position without using muscles) that reduces the pain.

;)

megrfl
2010-Feb-22, 03:19 PM
Whenever I have seen the kerchief in use (movies/Three Stooges?), I thought it was always following a dental procedure and it was packed with ice.

SeanF
2010-Feb-22, 03:29 PM
I suspect it might have something to do with relaxing the muscles (keeping the jaw in a closed position without using muscles) that reduces the pain.
That was what I had always thought. But I noticed that the OP is certainly not using it that way:


I draped it over my head and am holding it in place by wearing ear protectors. I adjusted the ear protectors so they press against my cheek bones instead of my ears.

grant hutchison
2010-Feb-22, 05:08 PM
The question that concerned me is why pressure, heat or cold on the surface of the body should have any effect on pain due to internal problems.This goes back to the "gate control" theory of pain, by Melzack and Wall. Stimulating other nerves in the same distribution as the pain seems to have an inhibitory effect on the transmission of pain signals. The appropriate wiring has been demonstrated at a spinal level, IIRC. I'm not sure how it works with cranial nerves, but it seems to: transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation (TENS) is often used as a treatment for the facial pain of trigeminal neuralgia, for instance.
Then there's the role of immobilization: you've got protective spasm in the muscles of mastication, so placing them in a sling may reduce pain by reducing movement of spasmed muscles.
But, of course, the mad bandage-round-the-jaw look is impossible to test in a placebo-controlled trial, and it's likely to also have a strong placebo effect; I'd hazard that it might be the main effect. (That's also a problem with validating the use of TENS, of course.)

Grant Hutchison

mahesh
2010-Feb-23, 05:27 PM
Gee...reminds me of Marathon Man! Oooooh!
Is it safe? ...zzzzzzz...

Oh you poor you tashiro...
Yes, clove oil, as ZeroOne says, takes good care until further intervention.
How is toothache now? Is it safe? I mean, to order pizza!

tashirosgt
2010-Feb-23, 07:49 PM
On Monday, the dentist said my teeth are fine. I had a crown put on a tooth recently and it may have changed the way my teeth mesh. He did a little grinding to make my chewing smoother. I expected his work to be painful but it wasn't. He didn't need to inject me with any painkillers.

I was frustrated because some teeth definitely hurt and I expected to find an obvious cause. Then I began to notice that the pain became sharper when I lay down. From the web, I found that a sinus infection can cause your teeth to hurt. Sure enough, this morning my symptoms are like those of a sinus infection - mild fever, nasal congestion, which improved after I stood up for awhile. My teeth don't bother me much.

JustAFriend
2010-Feb-24, 02:47 AM
Simple explanation: People use to use a thing called a POULTICE as a way of delivering home medicine.

(Was still common in my hillbilly family growing up and if you're old enough you would have seen them a lot in old cowboy movies....)

slang
2010-Feb-24, 11:17 AM
From the web, I found that a sinus infection can cause your teeth to hurt.

Even weirder (IMHO)... it can make teeth go numb.. a very strange experience.

(BTW: poultice (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Poultice). Had to look it up.)

mahesh
2010-Feb-24, 04:29 PM
I remember as a child, mummy used to use poultice on occasions due to our escapades and consequences.

My baby calls me a scared-y-cat now, when he's kindahurt. Kids.