Have you also been a victim of that horrible period of time where your teeth hurt as if they have been set on fire? Or when the pain is so bad that it seems like there is a strange weight on your jaw? Is that the current phase you are in right now? Do you know someone who is braving the pain? We know how frustrated and helpless you may feel in that situation. Your first question will probably be “What to do that will work for a toothache?” or “How to cure a toothache?” Obviously, the first advice that we would provide you with for any such situation will be to visit your dentist as soon as possible. But at times when you can’t really pay the good doctor a visit and can’t bear the pain either, you can’t do much if you do not possess the right knowledge and efficient tools to tackle such a situation. So, it is better to equip yourself by reading the home remedies below to get rid of a toothache to prepare yourself for the crisis with all that is required beforehand.
There is no set answer as to “how long does a toothache last?” It can go on forever if ignored and left untreated. Nobody wants that.
Some people have also complained of a combined toothache and ear in severe pain too, assuming that the former is causing the latter. It is important to understand that although the two are interrelated, the logic is all backward. In simpler words, it is a toothache that’s causing the pain in the ear on the same side as that of the tooth, especially of the upper jaw. This happens solely because of our nervous system’s complexity. A more common example is the relation of a stroke and an aching arm. But this does not necessarily mean that your ear is completely healthy. You should get yourself checked with both an orthodontist and an ENT (Ear, Nose, and Tongue) specialist.
What Causes Toothache?
There can be a huge number of reasons for your teeth to be hurting. But before that, we must try and understand, in depth, the structure of our teeth. Inside every tooth, a living tissue is present. This tissue is responsible for all the sensations of temperature and pressure that we feel on the teeth. But a setback is that like every other tissue, this can also get infected. This tissue is covered by a hard shell called the enamel. Now, some bacteria present in our mouths release acids that may make their way into the enamel. The inside of the tooth, which is soft, reacts to these bacteria with what we normally feel as inflammation. Some of the most basic causes of a toothache are listed below.
The most common reason behind a toothache is decay. When the damage to the tooth reaches the inner layer, called the dentin, it results in the formation of what dentists call cavities. This causes sensitivity in the tooth, which we can feel when we drink something cold or hot and while chewing. This cavity may go as further deep as the center of the tooth, and that can be the onset of much bigger dental problems (1).
Abscesses occur because of tooth decay, chipping, or other openings. When the tooth decay has progressed as deep as the roots of the teeth, it may mean that roots have been infected. This cause pulses of pain, which may make it difficult to pinpoint the exact tooth that is causing the pain. If ignored for too long, this may result in tissue and tooth loss (2).
Gum diseases are, generally speaking, any discrepancy originating in the gums, which are the soft tissues holding the teeth. These may range from red gums and bleeding from them, to a soft pain in the mouth and teeth. Gum diseases can be Gingivitis, which is a mild inflammation of the gums or serious damage to the bones and tissues. Gum diseases are no joke and require immediate medical attention. If ignored for too long, these may get you to end up in surgery (3).
Yes, the teeth also get fractured. These fractures can either be cracks or a small chipping. Nonetheless, these are not to be taken lightly. The cause of tooth fracture can be anything from a sports injury to chewing on something very hard. The crack might be small in the beginning but may progress to the inside very rapidly, causing a lot of pain. A type of tooth fracture is the CTS (Cracked Tooth Syndrome,) which is a situation of vast confusion and immense pain as it is an incomplete tooth fracture. The symptoms include high sensitivity. But how to stop a toothache from a broken tooth? Just avoid anything that is too hot or too cold. Also, keep away from anything containing sugar. Both of these may worsen your situation. Take an OTC (Over The Counter) drug or use warm salt water as a mouthwash 2-3 times in a day. Visit your doctor as soon as possible (4).
If a person feels immense pain whenever they consume hot or cold substances, it can be generally deduced that the protective enamel of the teeth has worn down and the inner soft dentin has been exposed. This exposure kicks the sensitivity on, responding severely to the rise and drop in temperature. This is called tooth sensitivity and can be very uncomfortable while eating or drinking. This can be tackled by the use of special toothpaste made for sensitive teeth (5).
Faulty Tooth Fillings
An extensively used cure for the fractures or cavities in the teeth is the employment of dental fillings. But sometimes, due to varying reasons, the sealing wears off, exposing the soft inside of the teeth to sensitivity and bacterial attack. The ache caused by this can be dull, sharp, or temperature sensitive (6).
Grinding In Teeth
Teeth grinding or Bruxism may be an involuntary or voluntary action that many people do. In other words, people may grind their teeth while sleeping or being awake. The most common symptoms are the pain in the muscles of neck, tooth, or jaw. Grinding in teeth, generally, implies clenching or rubbing opposite set of teeth together. This can cause pain in the teeth or neck. It is important to note here that bruxism may also become the cause of the tooth chipping or fracture (7).
Poor Brushing Habits
We understand how lazy you feel in the morning right after waking up. And the world has taught us that the first thing to do in the morning is to brush your teeth properly and attentively. Some of us are very efficient in brushing our teeth. But, some of us rarely pay attention to the amount of pressure we are exerting while brushing. Putting too much pressure on teeth while brushing can cause damage to the gums. The same applies to floss. If proper care is not taken, it can ensue more pain in the gums (8).
Misalignment of teeth can cause rubbing, sometimes pushing out teeth from the line too. Wisdom teeth that were not able to grow out of the tissues can also be excruciatingly painful in the gums as well for other teeth. This is the case of impacted wisdom teeth. These may require extreme measures such as braces, and in some cases, surgery. In some instances, tooth misalignment is hereditary, meaning it has been passed down by the parent to the children. Some mothers think that oral measures during childbearing might be a harmful concept. But, clinical studies prove otherwise. It is advised that women must take proper steps towards oral hygiene to avoid toothaches and prevent transmission of cavities (9, 10, 11).
Poor Orthodontic Measures
Alignment measures such as braces can cause immense discomfort to the patient. Though, the pain right after the installation is normal and may subside after a few weeks because these alignments either have moved or tightened the teeth. But, if under any circumstances, it still pains, you are recommended to immediately get in touch with your orthodontist.
Food Lodged In Teeth
Sometimes, there may be chances of food getting stuck between teeth, especially if there is more space than usual between them or in between the cavities formed. In such cases, either because of bacterial action or because of the shape of the food substance, you can face dull pain that gets annoying after a while (12).
In some cases, a sinus infection may also become the reason for a toothache. If you suffer from sinus infections, then you know the pain that occurs in the set of teeth that are closest to the sinuses. This is caused by the pressure created in the nasal cavity. If you happen to have a sinus infection that is causing a toothache, it is recommended that you see your dentist soon (13).
Home Remedies For Toothache
Like we said earlier, it may not be possible to visit the doctor when you are in pain every time because of several reasons. So what can be done? How to get rid of a toothache at home? What is a good remedy for stopping a toothache from bothering you for a long time? The first and foremost advice will be to make use of a prescription drug meant for such situations. Also, there are a plethora of home remedies that people will throw at you from time to time, describing in detail how to cure or soothe a toothache, but not all of them prove to be fruitful.
Here is a list of useful toothache home remedies that actually work.
1. Salt Water
One of the most common reasons for a bad toothache is cavities. An open cavity is like an invitation to a feast for the bacteria. It is a guaranteed space for infections if ignored for too long. But, it’s a good thing that we happen to have the easiest and the most economic of toothache remedies as near as our kitchen; salt and water. Saltwater has been proven to be absorbed by the tooth enamel, providing instant relief and ridding the space of harmful bacteria. You can simply rinse your mouth with lukewarm salt water and then cleanse it with a simple, off-the-counter antiseptic mouthwash. This will work like magic in a few minutes. All you need to do is mix half a tablespoon of salt in a cup of lukewarm water and use as a mouthwash. This is proven to lessen inflammation and swelling (14).
Garlic has been long since used for therapeutic purposes in several different cultures of the world. Most widely, garlic is used as an antiseptic and antibacterial component in several home remedies. Garlic can be used for ridding the mouth of bacterium that excretes the acids, causing inflammation and sensitivity. It has been proven to provide short-term aid in matters of toothaches. A pinch of salt taken with garlic can be the answer to “what helps a toothache?” Also, chewing a clove of garlic will aid in strengthening the tooth and prove useful in maintaining oral fitness (15, 16).
3. Hydrogen Peroxide
Hydrogen peroxide is most widely used as a disinfectant for medicinal purposes. It is used for cleaning the wounds and in the sterilization of medical tools. It is also a cheaply available antiseptic. But, in a recent study, it has also claimed to be a pain reliever for toothaches. In situations where visiting a doctor is improbable, and you are wondering how to sleep with this evil of a toothache, just pour a cap of 3% hydrogen peroxide into your mouth. Hold it for 10 minutes multiple times in a day. It can lessen your pain greatly and help you sleep through the night so you can visit the orthodontist in the morning (17, 18).
Like many others who have had to face the pain, you must have also been piqued by the age-old question of whether to choose ice or heat as a remedy for a toothache. Well, here’s the answer. Ice is a proven remedy for a severe toothache and heat should be avoided. But, when we say ice, it does not mean the use of ice directly on the affected tooth or gum. Instead, use a healing cloth or compress with ice and wrap it in a cloth. Press this cloth over the affected region from the outside for as much time as possible. This will help in numbing the nerve that is sensing the pain. Repeat the process until you are able to see the dentist for a proper treatment (19).
5. Benzyl Alcohol
Benzyl alcohol is a colorless liquid and is used in IV medicines. It is also used as a treatment for lice. But benzyl alcohol is also an active ingredient, along with zinc chloride, in oral pain relievers. It is administered by taking about 2 teaspoons in the mouth and swirling over the affected tooth for about a minute and then finally spitting out. It should be done about 4 times a day for some pain relief (20).
The bacteria that cause a toothache are very sensitive toward antibacterial properties of various substances. Onion is another organic antibacterial and antiseptic way to remedy an aching tooth. All you need to do is cut a piece of the onion of appropriate size, so it fits in your mouth and let it sit comfortably on the tooth or gum that needs attention. Eating an uncooked onion every day is also a natural remedy for a toothache (21).
7. Wheat Grass Juice
Wheatgrass is the grass of a regular wheat plant. In that regard, wheatgrass juice is purely chlorophyll, and hence, can be consumed without any side effects. It also means that it is entirely an organic and natural product. It has been studied and found that a small amount of wheatgrass juice in the diet can help prevent tooth decay and can prove to be an organic home remedy for a toothache. The nutrients present in the wheatgrass juice provide resistance to tooth problems. Also, wheat grass juice acts as an efficient mouthwash against pyorrhea, tooth decay, and toothaches. Also, since the wheatgrass is soft, it can be chewed for amazing results too (22).
Acupressure has been around for centuries and is used as an alternative mechanism for curing various pains and situations. It keeps its basis on the internal energy that flows through a human body. And believe it or not, these old-age techniques can be used for even curing or reducing the intensity of something as complex as toothaches. For that, we first need to find the exact spot to work on. According to research, this spot is located on the apex when the index finger and the thumb are brought together. You need to locate the point and then apply an unwavering pressure on this spot for about 5 seconds. While doing this, keep your breathing steady and relax (23).
9. Guava Leaves
Guava is an amazing fruit. It is used in a wide variety of food preparations and is also enjoyed raw. But apart from its use on the plate, the guava itself along with its bark, roots, and leaves is of high medicinal importance, used for curing and remedying various problems. The leaves, however, are widely used to ease toothaches, You can chew on the leaves in case of a severe toothache to stop it from hurting and annoying the living daylights out of you (24).
10. Thyme Or Oregano
We have usually seen oregano as a mere topping on our regular Italian cuisine. But, what most people seem to ignore is that oregano and thyme, both, contain an oil called thymol. Thymol oil has antimicrobial properties and can be used in lotions for easing toothaches (25).
11. Toothache Plant
The next time someone quotes the famous line “what’s in a name?”, simply give them the name of the toothache plant. This plant is scientifically known as acmella oleracea and it is also called sechuan buttons, buzz buttons, electric daisy, etc. in different parts of the world. It is evident enough what this plant does in terms of medicinal uses. Toothache plant contains a special kind of fatty acid called the spilanthol, which has been proven to possess anti-toothache qualities. Even though almost all parts of the plant are used, the flowers especially are chewed on to get relief from toothache and gum problems. It creates a numbing effect, thus, helping in relief from a toothache (26, 27).
12. Cayenne Pepper
Cayenne pepper or simply the red pepper is a common sight in several households. It is spicy in taste and owes this taste to a special chemical called the capsaicin, which has proven pain relieving characteristics. Use of plants with capsaicin for various remedies have been a prevailing folk remedy and is also used widely for toothaches. It is either used directly on the tooth or mixed with water to form a paste and then applied. Measure equal amounts of cayenne powder and ginger and mix them in apple cider vinegar to create a sort of paste. Use this paste on the affected region for some relief from a toothache (28).
13. Baking Soda
There are a lot of misconceptions regarding oral hygiene during the months of pregnancy. And most of the times, the doctor will not brave the question of oral hygiene to a going-to-be mother. It would be advised to just do what you would normally do; brush, floss, and use mouthwash. But in case of vomiting due to morning sickness, you can use baking soda as a prevention for bacteria build up. Mix a teaspoon of it in water and use it as a mouthwash to avoid the chances of a toothache during pregnancy.
Also, baking soda is a proven method to get rid of mouth sores by applying a paste made with water on the sore (29, 30).
Neem, or as more commonly known, Indian Lilac, is a tree very abundantly found in the Indian subcontinent. For centuries, it has been a part of the Indian folk medicine used for a varied array of treatments and remedies. But, probably the most common area of medicinal application of neem is oral hygiene. It can be used for a toothache, bleeding, sores, and foul stench emanating from the mouth. Neem has several benefits. It is a natural antibacterial agent that is proven to prevent cavities or caries. Chewing neem sticks has been a traditional waking up ritual in India. The extract of neem sticks kills the bacteria that cause cavities. Also, the neem stick extract is proven to act against the build-up of plaque in the mouth (31, 32).
Essential Oils For a Toothache
Essential oils are the aromatic compounds obtained from various trees. If you have ever noticed the sharp smell of any organic product, you already know the aromatic power of an essential oil. These oils are generally made from the bark, leaves, flowers, fruits, seed, or roots of a plant. Some very common examples of essential oils are oils of rose, clove, cinnamon, peppermint, etc. These are all strong-smelling plant products. This is because of the presence of essential oil, of some form, in these.
The main reason for calling these “essential oils” is because they resemble the plant’s fragrance or have the “essence” of it. They are mostly obtained by distilling the plant part.
Essential oils are probably the most used medicinal fluids throughout the history. For thousands of years, essential oils have been the first aid in many medical emergencies. The purposes, for which essential oils have been used, vary from therapy and beautification methods to actual medicinal and household applications. They possess anti-microbial and antioxidant properties, which benefit the user without the fear of any side effects. Maybe that is why that they are gaining immense popularity in the world today.
Today, essential oils are used for household cleaning, repelling mosquito and insects, sunscreens, antidepressant, masking foul smells, etc. But the most important use of these is in the health and medicine field. And believe it or not, a huge number of these essential oils can be used as emergency measures for a toothache and relief from pain.
So how to use essential oils to relieve a toothache? Read on.
15. Clove Oil
A large chunk of the population believes that cloves are only popular in the kitchen and probably do not have any other use, apart from cooking. But people do not generally know that cloves have been used for a long time as a pain reliever for oral purposes. Dentists of many years ago, when faced with a toothache, always used cloves for pain relief for a very long time. Even today, dentists use clove-based products because of the presence of eugenol for its antiseptic properties. Also, it has been shown by a study that the oil from cloves can be used for prevention of gingivitis as well as tooth decay by fighting against the bacteria. Usage of a clove oil based mouthwash can prove to be effective against cavities and can be used for toothaches.
You can make use of clove oil for a toothache in the following three ways.
- Use warm salt water to rinse your mouth. Put 2-3 cloves and hold them near the area that is troubling. When the cloves get soft, bite them softly to release further oil. It is a commonly used toothache remedy.
- In half a teaspoon of olive oil, pour a few drops of clove oil. Douse a small cotton into this and press it softly against the affected gum or tooth.
- Using warm salt water for rinsing your mouth, take some of the grounded cloves and spread it over the sore gum and a little on the cheek. This powder mixes with the saliva and does the required (33).
It is proven as an effective antibacterial measure and is widely used as both a household remedy and as a clinical antiseptic by orthodontists. Cloves also show antioxidant characteristics and are probably the best way of how to help a toothache (34).
16. Peppermint oil
You may have already read or seen the extensive use of peppermint and peppermint oil in a wide array of products available in the market. So, you must have also noticed that a lot of these are generally toothpastes. Peppermint oil is widely used as an antiseptic and as an anesthetic because of the cooling effect it has. Peppermint oil has been used in both western and eastern cultures as a working remedy for toothaches (35). It happens to be among the most strongly-scented of all essential oils. As sharp as the smell of peppermint is, the useful effects of the peppermint oil are very high in number too. Studies prove that the peppermint oil, with its major component being menthol, has an immense capacity to inhibit the growth of bacteria that are responsible for cavities and caries formed in the teeth (36).
17. Tea Tree Oil
Tea tree oil is an essential oil taken from the leaves of a tree that is native to a few states of Australia. It has good anti-inflammatory properties, and hence, is widely used in gel form as a remedy for gingivitis. You can use a cotton swab, soak the oil in it, and apply it on the affected region. Now, you may not like the way it tastes, but it is an efficient remedy against sore gums (37).
18. Cinnamon oil
Cinnamon oil is extracted from the leaves, root, and bark of the cinnamon tree. Apart from a really tasty usage of cinnamon, it is also very widely used as a remedy for a toothache. The main and most active component of the cinnamon oil is Cinnamaldehyde. Research has shown that Cinnamaldehyde proves to be very effective against oral candidiasis, which is a fungal infection of the mouth (38). You can add a couple of drops or a little more of cinnamon oil in a small bottle of water, and use that as a mouthwash. This would not only keep your mouth clean but will also make it free of harmful microbes.
19. Lavender oil
It is extracted from the flowers of lavender and is considered to be the most flexible of all the essential oils. Most people relate lavender to its advantages in skin care and beauty products. But, it has a very important application at dentist’s clinic, too. The main content of lavender oil is linalool. It shows excellent antimicrobial characteristics against various bacteria. Also, lavender oil is described to help in reducing anxiety and stress. It also lifts up the mood of people. Maybe that is why it can be used in dental clinics to make the patient calm (39). You can mix a drop of Lavender oil with a teaspoon of virgin coconut oil and apply those to the gums of a child in pain. You can also use Lavender oil in a diffuser so it helps you or others in pain to get a good night’s sleep.
20. Eucalyptus oil
Eucalyptus can be easily recognized by its sweet, woody scent that comes from the leaves of the tree. The eucalyptus oil is obtained from these leaves because they are generally made up of 70% oil. The main component in eucalyptus oil is called Eucalyptol. This oil exhibits antimicrobial as well as anti-inflammatory properties. It is very effective in inhibiting the growth of microbes causing dental problems. Eucalyptus oil is also used as an anti-cavity measure (40). To get relief from a toothache, simply pour a drop of Eucalyptus oil on your toothbrush before you brush your teeth in the morning. You can also add a drop of the oil in your daily mouthwash, which you use to rinse your mouth after brushing.
Best Possible Toothache Medicine Available Over The Counter
We know that not everyone is the same. And, therefore, maybe not everyone would prefer to look for remedies on how to relieve a toothache. These people would rather look for the best possible and most effective over-the-counter medicines. The state of mind that counters the use of remedies and searches for the “how,” which links to the ways to treat a toothache, not temporarily soothe one, is a commendable one.
Although there are several names and colors, in which, these drugs are available in the market, but it might get confusing for anyone to pick one that can be considered the best pain reliever, especially in the case for a toothache. What might help is the knowledge that the basic components of these painkillers are same and very few in number. Some of these are:
Aspirin has salicylic acid as its main ingredient. A form of it known as the ASA (Acetyl Salicylic Acid), is what is used to make the aspirin. Aspirin is one of the most recommended drugs for the cure of a toothache. Dentists of old have used aspirin to cure toothaches and written about it. What happens is that aspirin targets the inflammatory reaction to provide relief without using any steroids. Although it is generally advised to not directly put the tablet on the tooth as it may cause tooth burns (41, 42).
Ibuprofen is a comparatively newer drug in the market. It has a greater hold on the pain reliever front as it is chosen over aspirin many times. If you are wondering what would be the most effective and safe drug to take for a toothache, your best case scenario will definitely be this tablet. Ibuprofen is advised as the best medicine available over the counter for toothache. It happens to be a little heavier in comparison to Aspirin, which in short, means that you take a smaller amount of ibuprofen for the same effect. It is also proven to be far more effective in the extraction of wisdom teeth as a pain reliever when pitted against paracetamol (43, 44).
Paracetamol, or as it is scientifically referred to as acetaminophen (APAP), is another painkiller available for toothaches with benefits somewhat similar to aspirin. It is good for pains that are not inflammatory in origin. It has the advantage of being the least upsetting to the stomach. You may more commonly know APAP as the drug Tylenol. Where Ibuprofen is considered the best for adults, paracetamol is taken to be the best painkiller for toothache in children as it is lighter than Ibuprofen. We can easily administer about a 1000 mg of paracetamol to the same effect as 600 mg of Ibuprofen (45, 46, 47).
Do’s and Don’ts Of Toothache Pain Relief
Apart from the remedies mentioned above, there are some more things you need to keep in mind if you want the pain to subside and not return. These do’s and don’ts will help you with pain relief till you visit your dentist, which you should as soon as possible if you want to find out the cause of your toothache. He/she will treat you and prescribe the required medication according to the root cause. Read further to find out what you should and shouldn’t do when you have a toothache.
- Toothache can be called the most irritating and annoying category of pains, and justly so, because they cause an unparalleled level of uneasiness and discomfort to the bearer. Every activity that a person does through the day serves to be a sharp reminder of the pain, be it talking, eating, even walking and running. And the most excruciating moments are when you are trying desperately to sleep, but it keeps on eluding you because of the pain. So, when you are trying to get rid of the pain or attempting to relieve it till the time you see your dentist, there are a few pointers that you should always bear in your mind.
- Do not start popping painkillers without consulting a doctor first. It may be so that they will do more harm than good. Same goes for the use of any cream over the affected area. You should only use it after the consultation or prescription of your orthodontist.
- For the while being, completely stop consuming food or beverages of extremely high or low temperatures. Also, avoid eating anything sweet, sticky, or both.
- Avoid direct placing of any painkiller or gel over the gums, as it may cause chemical burns of the tissues. Also, before you give small children any medicine, it is highly advisable that you consult a doctor beforehand. And, do not ever take more than the recommended level of antiseptic or antibiotics, as they may cause unwanted side effects in the future.
- Do not stop brushing and taking care of your teeth. Floss properly to remove any food particle that may have been left behind while brushing. Also, fix the earliest possible appointment with your dentist.
A toothache may seem like a trivial issue to you, but it may be the onset of a bigger problem. Or, it may also be your body’s way of telling you that whatever care you are providing to the mouth cavity is not adequate and you need to up the level of oral hygiene. But also, do not hyperventilate about the issue of a toothache and make a mountain out of a molehill. The first and foremost thing to do in the case of a toothache is to see your orthodontist. Remember this, these remedies are just ways to temporary relief, and they are not, in any way, full-fledged treatments. The most important thing is to maintain an oral hygiene, not just for the sake of health and in fear of adverse effects like a toothache, but because almost everyone out there in the world appreciates a good smile.
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