This section is from the book "Dental Medicine. A Manual Of Dental Materia Medica And Therapeutics", by Ferdinand J. S. Gorgas. Also available from Amazon: Dental Medicine.
Heat is also under certain circumstances a valuable antiphlogistic. Dry heat will mitigate pain, and heat with moisture in the form of a poultice, is very commonly used to relieve the pain and tensive heat of local inflammation by its soothing and relaxing effect. While cold has an astringent, sedative effect, and constringes the capillaries of the inflamed tissue, thus promoting healing by resolution, moist heat is relaxing and promotes exudation, if not suppuration, leading to repair by "the second intention." The use of cold is dispensed with in inflammatory conditions as soon as it is apparent that the termination of the inflammation by resolution is impossible, when resort is had to poultices or warm fomentations, such as flaxseed and slippery-elm bark, to which vaseline, boracic acid, or a weak solution of carbolic acid may be added to prevent fermentation in the poultice, and putrefaction in the wound. To relieve pain, tincture of opium may be applied to the surface of the poultice, a water-dressing composed of cloth saturated with warm water, or a medicated solution, such as boracic acid or biborate of sodium. The local warm bath is also another method of applying heat and moisture, as the granulations of a surface immersed in tepid water develop favorably; and an ulcerated surface which has been subjected to a prolonged warm bath, made antiseptic by carbolic acid, or the application of an eight per cent. solution of chloride of zinc, is greatly benefited. Warmth and moisture are especially indicated for parts having a feeble circulation. Warm, moist applications, such as poultices, promote the tendency to suppuration; hence, care should be observed in applying such applications to the surface of the face, in the case of an alveolar abscess, as pointing and the escape of pus may be induced in a position where permanent disfigurement would be very apparent.
Compression is also of service in the treatment of certain forms of inflammation, especially during the late stages; but it must be uniformly, moderately, and continuously applied. Even in the acute form, compression may prevent the over-distention of the capillaries and limit the exudation; in the chronic form, compression promotes absorption. It is accomplished by means of bandages, either alone or in conjunction with cotton batting, as the latter prevents irregular constriction and maintains a uniform temperature. A fine compressed sponge moistened, after it is applied, with tepid water, is a painless and effective means for obtaining compression in the treatment of indolent ulcers. Compression by means of sheet lead or tin, and pads of bibulous paper, will often prevent an alveolar abscess from discharging on the surface of the cheek or neck, when such an event is imminent.