No one likes having a toothache. The discomfort, swelling, and pain while eating or drinking can be enough to put anyone in a bad mood – and make them want to get to a dentist right away. But what do you do if you can’t get into your dentist’s office?
Sometimes the tooth pain might be too mild to visit the dentist, or might happen late at night when the dentist is not available. Here are a few at-home remedies that can help you cope with toothache pain.
What causes toothache?
One of the main causes of toothache is pulpitis, which is most commonly a result of tooth decay. This is when the soft tissue in a tooth – the pulp – becomes inflamed. The pulp contains blood vessels and nerves, and is the innermost layer of a tooth. The outside layer is called enamel – this is the hard, protective outer coating that doesn’t contain any nerves or blood vessels.
Under the enamel is another layer called dentine. This forms the major part of the tooth, covering the pulp. It’s made of many dense layers of microscopic tubes that link the enamel to the pulp. So when the enamel is compromised, harmful substances such as bacteria and toxins can pass through the dentine’s tubes to the pulp. To protect itself, the pulp becomes inflamed (pulpitis).
Tooth decay is one of the things that can damage the enamel to such an extent that harmful substances can get to the pulp. This decay is the result of bacteria in our mouths reacting with the sugars from our food and making acid. Every time we eat or drink anything that contains sugars (including natural sugars found in carbohydrate foods), the acids our bacteria produce attack our teeth’s enamel, softening and dissolving it.
These acid attacks can last for an hour after eating or drinking, but then natural substances in saliva help the enamel to harden again (a process called remineralisation). But if too much acid is produced over a long enough period of time, it can dissolve a hole in the enamel.
As well as tooth decay, pulpitis can be caused by:
- Broken or loose fillings
- A cracked tooth
- Receding gums (sometimes caused by brushing your teeth too hard)
- A dental abscess or infection
- Problems with orthodontic devices such as braces
- Having a dental filling that’s too close to the pulp
When should you see a dentist?
If you have toothache that lasts for more than two days, it’s generally advisable to book an appointment with your dentist to have the problem diagnosed and treated. Other signs you should have a check-up include:
- Toothache that doesn’t get better when you take over-the-counter painkillers
- Toothache accompanied by a high temperature, as this could be a sign that you have an infection.
- Pain when you eat or bite on something.
- Toothache accompanied by red or swollen gums, or if your jaw or cheek is also swollen (also signs of infection).
- Toothache accompanied by a bad taste in your mouth.
- Severe pain after having a tooth taken out.
- Losing, breaking or chipping a tooth as the result of an accident.
- Toothache caused by a wisdom tooth.
- Toothache accompanied by problems with swallowing.
When you experience a toothache, especially a very severe one, you might choose to visit the dentist if it continues for more than a day. The dentist will first identify the cause of the toothache and then treat it accordingly. The treatment could involve a procedure like filling a cavity or a root canal, or it could be simpler like cleaning the teeth and gums and prescribing a painkiller for a few days. If you have an abscess or some type of infection, the dentist might even prescribe an antibiotic.
Self-care for tooth pain
With these home remedies for toothaches you can certainly soothe and even heal a mild toothache. While ongoing toothaches are often a sign of underlying oral-health issues, such as an infection, tooth decay, and cavities, we will again stress how important it is to alert your dentist in Redlands when symptoms occur continuously. You must also remember the importance of regular dental checkups and cleanings with dentists to ensure the prevention of said oral health issues. While you’re waiting for your dental appointment there are some things you could do at home to ease the pain of toothache, including the following:
Over-the-counter painkillers such as ibuprofen or paracetamol may help to relieve mild to moderate pain, with ibuprofen also helping to ease inflammation. However ibuprofen isn’t suitable for everyone, so always check with a pharmacist before buying and read the patient safety leaflet carefully. Aspirin, meanwhile, isn’t suitable for children under the age of 16. You can also buy pain-relieving gels and pastes over the counter that help numb the affected area.
Saltwater gargles are one of the first-line treatments for many people. Rinsing the mouth with warm salt water helps to loosen debris lodged in cavities or between teeth. Salt has anti-inflammatory and antiseptic properties that help to reduce the swelling and may boost the healing.
Take warm water and add half a teaspoon of sea salt in it and mix properly. Rinse your mouth with this saltwater and repeat 10-15 times or till the intensity of pain reduction.
If you have toothache and your face looks swollen, putting something cold next to your cheek may help. Place a clean flannel or piece of cloth in cold water, wring it out and hold it against the affected part of your face (some ice or a packet of frozen peas wrapped in a cloth or tea towel is another option). Don’t try this, however, if your teeth feel sensitive, as the cold could make the problem worse.
While you have toothache it may be painful to eat, so avoid having to chew hard or crunchy foods until the problem has been treated. Instead have soft foods such as yoghurt. mashed potatoes and scrambled eggs, or have soup with a smooth rather than chunky texture. Try to make sure your food is neither too hot or too cold – aim for warm or room temperature. Also avoid eating sweet foods, and if you do have something you have to chew, avoid chewing with the affected tooth.
clove oil contains a compound named Eugenol that acts as a mild analgesic. Clove help numb the nerves of the affected tooth and thus alleviate pain. Clove oil extracted from the bud and stem of eugenol clove that beneficial to treat toothache.
You can place a clove on the tooth and chew it a bit to release its oil or rub clove oil on the tooth to get some relief.
Garlic has antibiotic and anti-inflammatory properties that help reduce the soreness of the affected tooth. When crushed, garlic releases allicin. It may kill harmful, plaque-causing bacteria and provide pain relief.
Take two to three pods of garlic and crush them with some salt and pepper. Apply this mixture to the affected area and keep it till the pain subsides.
Ginger with cayenne pepper works wonderfully in toothache when mixed. It can also help reduce the oral bacteria that lead to cavities and gum disease, making it a generally efficient ally to your oral health regimen.
For better results, peel an inch of fresh ginger and start chewing it slowly around the affected area, allowing the ginger to ooze its juices. You can keep it for an hour to reduce the swelling and pain.
Onions are acidic. It contains anti-bacterial properties and can alleviate tooth pain by killing the germs causing the infection.
Place a freshly cut slice of onion between the teeth and chew gently. Chew the onion for a few minutes, which further helps to release the juices.
Turmeric contains a compound named curcumin. It has excellent anti-inflammatory and antiseptic properties that help treat the inflammation in the teeth. Turmeric may heal the gum and tooth area in case of an infection or an abscess.
For better results, make a paste of turmeric powder with some water and apply it to the affected area.
Peppermint oil has a numb effect that can soothe your pain and reduce swelling. It contains menthol that has anti-bacterial properties.
To relieve pain instantly, pour a few drops of peppermint oil and olive oil on the cotton ball. Then place the cotton ball on the affected area for 10-15 minutes till the pain goes away.
Asafetida is one of the oldest home remedies for toothache. It may help to treat toothaches and bleeding gums and keep the health of your gums and teeth intact.
Take a pinch of asafetida and add a tsp of lemon juice to it. Mix it and soak a cotton ball in it. Then place a cotton ball at the affected area till the time the pain has vanished.
It has antimicrobial properties that reduce swelling and pain. Take fresh guava leaves and chew them. Else you can use them as a mouthwash to lower the pain.
Apply a peppermint tea bag to the sore area in the mouth
Another natural home remedy for toothaches involves a peppermint tea bag. This household item can help numb and soothe the pain of a toothache. Start by resting the tea bag in a cup of hot water for about two minutes, then, remove it from the water and allow it to cool down. Put the bag in the freezer for an extra soothing effect. You can then apply the frozen tea bag to the sore area on your gum to help numb and soothe the pai
Vanilla extract is an antioxidant, which means it can help slow damage to your cells caused by bacteria. Additionally, most vanilla extracts contain a small amount of alcohol, which means they can be effective pain relievers.
Simply dab a few drops of vanilla extract onto a cotton ball (or your finger). Then, apply the extract directly to your toothache. This should help relieve a little pain – and it may even keep bacteria at bay until you can get to the dentist!
How to avoid toothache?
A good oral hygiene routine is your best bet for preventing toothache as well as other problems such as gum disease. This includes:
- Brushing your teeth twice a day for at least two minutes each time using a fluoride toothpaste
- Cleaning between your teeth every day using floss, dental tape or interdental brushes to remove food and plaque
- Using a fluoride mouthwash at a time when you’re not brushing to help remove plaque
You should also see your dentist for regular check-ups as often as they recommend – you may need more frequent appointments if you have a problem your dentist wants to keep an eye on, or they may advise you to come back in a year’s time.
Also consider giving up smoking if you’re a smoker, since cigarette smoke may make some dental problems worse. And it’s important to eat as healthily as possible, with limited amounts of sugary foods and drinks.
As some sporting activities carry a risk of injury – including damaging a tooth, losing a filling, breaking a tooth or even losing a tooth altogether – it’s also a good idea to wear a protective dental guard or protective headgear while playing to help prevent problems. Your dentist can advise you about suitable gum shields, depending on your activity.