Home remedies for toothaches have existed for thousands of years. Although modern dental care has improved our dental health significantly, anyone can still find themselves suffering from a toothache due to a cavity, cracked tooth, or loose filling. A home toothache remedy is an easy and inexpensive way to reduce tooth discomfort.
Home remedies aren’t a substitute for professional dental care, and should only be used as a temporary measure. Severe pain needs to be treated by an emergency dentist as soon as possible, even if a home remedy seems to work. However, they are a good way to relieve minor pain until the pain resolves on its own or the patient can visit a dentist for assessment and treatment.
What causes tooth pain?
Tooth pain or toothaches can result from several causes ranging from tooth development (in small children) or minor injury to the tooth—such as biting into something hard or flossing too roughly—to more serious underlying conditions.
Causes of toothaches may include:
- Tooth Decay.Tooth decay is the most common reason for a painful toothache. However, for the tooth and the surrounding area to be in pain, the tooth decay would need to be significant enough to reach the inner layer of the tooth (the dentin). When this has happened, the tooth becomes very sensitive and a cavity has formed.
- Abscessed Tooth.When tooth decay advances to the point of affecting the root beneath the visible part of the tooth, there’s a high probability that the root and the surrounding tissue have become infected, resulting in widespread, pulsating pain.
- Tooth Fracture.Teeth can be cracked or chipped in many different ways. If you’re experiencing pain in a fractured tooth, the fracture has made its way to the middle of the tooth where the nerve endings are. Note that this may not happen as soon as the tooth is damaged, but can develop over time as the damage becomes worse.
- Damaged Filling.A dental filling protects vulnerable parts of a tooth and, when it becomes damaged, the sensitive parts of the tooth are exposed to extreme temperatures, food particles, and bacteria. This can result in pain that can be anywhere from dull to sharp.
- Grinding Teeth.Teeth grinding is a common cause of tooth pain and can lead to sore jaw bones and joints, headaches, and even cracked or chipped teeth.
Toothaches can also result from the loss of a tooth, such as after an extraction, when the nerves of surrounding teeth have been jarred or exposed.
Sometimes tooth pain is pain from other areas that has radiated to the jaw, where it seems to be a toothache. Ear pain, sinuses, and the temporomandibular joint—or jaw joint—can all develop pain that, over time, may seem to originate at the tooth.
Tooth pain home remedies
Here are some well-known home remedies for toothache that can bring you relief.
Swishing peppermint tea can help clear debris similarly to a saltwater rinse, but with the added benefit of having some numbing power. The flavor may also be more appealing to children, who often dislike saltwater.
You can also use the tea bag as a compress against the affected tooth. Ensure the tea bag has cooled off first, then hold it in place against the tooth until the discomfort subsides.
Apple cider vinegar
This solution has antiseptic and anti-inflammatory qualities, and it’s also acidic – this means it kills bacteria that lead to toothaches. Soak a cotton ball in some apple cider vinegar and press it lightly on the affected tooth.
Salt Water Rinse
Although it sounds surprisingly simple, saltwater rinses work well for minor irritation that is caused by bacteria or debris. Make sure to swish the saltwater around thoroughly for 30 seconds before spitting it out.
This surprising home remedy for toothaches works because of capsaicin, a compound in cayenne pepper that helps keep pain from reaching the brain. Just mash ginger and cayenne pepper into a paste with a bit of water, then soak a small cotton ball in it. You’ll want the cotton ball to be small enough to cover your tooth without touching your tongue or gums.
Since this mixture can be quite spicy, it might not work well with small children. Adults and teenagers should be able to hold the cotton in place long enough for the paste to work.
Garlic has antibacterial properties that have allowed it to be used for medicinal purposes for centuries. It also helps relieve discomfort, so it can have phenomenal results as a toothache remedy.
Mash a fresh clove of garlic into a paste, or slowly chew it with the affected tooth. If the taste of raw garlic is overpowering, try mixing the paste with a small amount of salt. The salt may also help clean and reduce swelling.
Clove oil contains a natural anesthetic called eugenol, and the flavor and scent of clove make it pleasant to use. Use caution, though, as clove oil can irritate gums if it is applied too liberally inside your mouth.
Place a few small drops of clove oil on a cotton ball and use that to soak the tooth, or gently chew a whole clove until the oil comes out. With either option, you should start to feel relief within half an hour.
Like with any discomfort, a toothache can often be reduced with ice. Because teeth are so small, the most effective route may be to wrap an individual ice cube in cloth, then hold it against the affected tooth. A larger ice pack will be difficult to place accurately.
This toothache remedy may not work well with patients with sensitive teeth, and melting ice can be a hassle. If you don’t have any appropriate spices around the house, though, it could be the best option.
Hydrogen Peroxide Rinse
If the discomfort is caused by an infection, a hydrogen peroxide rinse may provide temporary relief. An infection may be a dental emergency, so if you have a foul taste in your mouth or you have a fever, find an emergency dentist as soon as possible.
Mix one part 3% hydrogen peroxide with one-part water and swish for several seconds. Make sure to spit out all of the hydrogen peroxide and rinse your mouth with fresh water afterwards. Small children should not attempt to use this rinse.
Toothaches are sometimes caused by food getting trapped between teeth. If the gaps between your teeth are very tight, regular brushing might not remove this food. Although flossing may not provide immediate relief, it may allow the discomfort to gradually subside and not get any worse.
Make sure to floss once a day, ideally at the end of the day before bed. Floss between all teeth, even the ones that don’t hurt or have visible food, to keep other toothaches from forming. Talk to your dentist about flossing methods if you’re having trouble reaching the back corners of your mouth.
Toothpaste for Sensitive Teeth
The discomfort that is triggered by hot, cold, or acidic foods could just be a sign of sensitive teeth. Tooth sensitivity is common and can get worse as we age. When our teeth decay and enamel grows thin, the nerves at the base of each tooth become more exposed and sensitive.
A dentist can help you figure out a long-term plan for dealing with tooth decay and thin enamel. In the meantime, try a toothpaste that is specifically designed for sensitive teeth.
Use Over-the-Counter Medicines
If pain continues, give over the counter anti-inflammatory medicines like ibuprofen and acetaminophen to help dull the ache. Make sure you follow the recommended dosage for children.
Use Thyme Mouthwash
Thyme has antibacterial and antioxidant properties that help relieve toothache in children. Dab a few drops of thyme essential oil and water onto a cotton ball and apply it to the affected area. You can also boil one cup of water and put thyme leaves in it to create a mixture. Cool it down and then use it as a mouthwash.
Massage with Aloe Vera Gel
Aloe vera has natural antibacterial properties and can help destroy mouth bacteria that cause tooth decay. To relieve toothache pain, apply aloe vera gel to the painful area and massage it gently.
How long will a toothache last?
There is really no way to tell how long a toothache will last. If it is simply the result of biting or brushing too hard, it may subside immediately or shortly after. If it is caused by something more serious, the pain may come and go, but never really go away completely.
Chances are if you are experiencing tooth pain or sensitivity, there is probably an underlying reason that needs attention. Putting off going to the dentist will most likely exacerbate the problem, leave you in pain longer, or even progress into something else even more painful. When in doubt, schedule a visit with your dentist so he or she can identify the cause of your pain and provide some appropriate treatment options.
When should I be worried about my tooth pain or toothache?
These home remedies for toothaches are not long-term solutions. The biggest concern is that a delay in dental care allows cavities, abscesses, and other problems to grow worse if home remedies are relied upon for too long.
if the pain is severe and the following conditions persist:
- The toothache lasts for more than 48 hours
- You have a fever and a headache when opening your mouth
- You have trouble swallowing or breathing
Get in touch with your dentist, and an emergency appointment will be arranged using the proper protocols for everyone’s safety.
The toothache treatment options depend primarily on the cause of the tooth pain, which can only be determined by a dentist. If your dentist determines a cavity is causing your discomfort, you will need to have the cavity filled or the tooth extracted. If the tooth’s nerve is infected, you may need antibiotics and/or a root canal. A root canal is a dental procedure that removes the infected pulp of a tooth—the nerves and blood vessels inside the tooth—then cleans and seals the tooth.