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Dread it as we might, toothache is a part of life, and it seems to strike at the worst possible time – when we are hiking in the mountains hundreds of miles away from the nearest dentist or on holiday abroad, in a country whose language we aren’t fluent in.
Why is this? Because we tend to neglect dental hygiene or do not take care of our teeth and gums the right way. When you are in a situation where you have no access to professional dental services, our home remedies for toothache are going to save your life!
Causes of Toothache
Tooth pain can occur for a variety of reasons. These include, but are certainly not limited to, cracked teeth, gum disease, an abnormal bite, grinding your teeth, cavities, damaged fillings, root infection, gum infection, and repetitive motions. In this article, we are going to emphasize incidences of tooth pain caused by tooth decay, because that is the most common cause.
In most cases, tooth pain is a result of inflammation of the soft part at the center of the tooth. Your tooth is made up of four layers. The outermost and hardest one is enamel – this is actually the hardest substance in the whole human body! Beneath that is dentin, a flexible supportive tissue that is softer than enamel.
Beneath that is cementum, a very specialized substance similar to bone that covers the root of a tooth. It is softer than both dentin and enamel, and its main function is to serve as a medium for the periodontal ligaments to attach to for stability. These ligaments are a type of tissue that connects the jawbone to the tooth.
At the innermost we have the pulp, the soft central part of the tooth filled with connective tissue that is rich in nerves and blood vessels.
Cavities result from the reactions of bacteria in the mouth to sugary and starchy foods. When the bacteria break down these foods, plaque forms over the teeth. This plaque is filled with acids and it’s pretty bad for the teeth. If you do not get it cleaned on a regular basis it will form tartar, which cannot be removed so easily. The acids in the plaque will destroy the tooth enamel.
If no measures are taken, they will continue to eat away at the tooth until they start to infect the pulp. That’s when you (congratulations!) need a root canal to keep the infection from spreading.
Symptoms of Toothaches
The most obvious symptom of toothache is…well…pain in the tooth. However, you may experience some kind of pain in the mouth that you will not immediately associate with the teeth. In other words, pain can vary. It may be constant, sharp, throbbing, or may occur only when you apply pressure. You may have painful, swollen gums, a fever or headache, or a bad taste in the mouth due to tooth infection.
Some foods, beverages and types of behavior can cause toothache or exacerbate it. They are known as "triggers" and include sweet foods, cold drinks or food, biting down on something or putting pressure on the painful tooth another way.
1. Clove Oil – The Most Powerful Natural Antiseptic Out There
Essential clove oil contains eugenol, an extremely effective painkiller and antiseptic. Dentists have been using cloves long before the time of modern dentistry. Still put to good use today in an extracted purified form, eugenol remains the most active ingredient of the substance a dentist will swab on your gums to numb them before getting down to work.
Making a compress is probably the most effective way to use clove oil for tooth pain.
- Clove essential oil
- Cotton balls
- 1/2 teaspoon of olive oil
- Rinse your mouth with warm salt water before making the compress so the oil will be as effective as possible. If you don’t, something might block the oil or otherwise obstruct its passage to the sore tooth.
- Mix a few drops of clove essential oil with the olive oil, soak a cotton ball in this mixture thoroughly and then hold it firmly against the sore tooth or gum, but do not press hard.
2. Alcohol (yes, this really is how to stop tooth pain)
I am not encouraging you to get drunk! Although that wouldn’t hurt either, but anyway. Normally alcohol isn’t a part of any home remedy, but in this case it would really help. Alcohol will numb the sore spot, providing immediate pain relief.
- Whiskey or vodka
- A cotton ball
Soak the cotton ball in the alcohol. Make sure it isn’t dripping, then press it to the sore tooth and let it sit. Repeat as often as needed. You can soak a cotton swab in the alcohol and smear it on the gum around the sore tooth if you don’t want to put the whole cotton ball there.
3. Salt water – Immediate and Lasting Relief
This home remedy repeats a great remedy you may have heard of. It offers lasting and fast relief both in lieu of a dentist’s appointment and after a procedure.
Why does salt water work? It neutralizes the lactic acid produced when the bacteria in your mouth break down the sugary and starchy foods you consume.
Needless to say, you should use salt water even if you do not have toothache because it can slow the process of decay down to a great extent. Warm salt water will also help soothe inflamed tissues by drawing excess fluid out of them.
- A cup of warm salt water
- 1/2 teaspoon sea salt
Dissolve the salt in the water and take a sip. Swish it around your mouth for about a minute, then spit it out. Keep doing this until the glass is empty. You can do this as many times a day as necessary until you experience relief.
4. Ginger-cayenne paste – Kill the pain with heat
- Equal amounts of ground ginger and cayenne pepper (spice)
Mix the two heat-packing ingredients with water sufficient to make a homogenous paste. Then roll a small cotton ball into the paste and place it on the sore tooth. Avoid contact with the tongue and gums.
Leave it until you feel relief or as long as you can bear it, because the mixture will probably burn. You can also try these two ingredients separately – they are both strong painkillers.
The main chemical component of cayenne pepper is capsaicin, which stops the brain from receiving pain messages.
5. Water and Peroxide Rinse – not dangerous if you do it right!
- 3% hydrogen peroxide
- Warm water
Mix equal parts of the hydrogen peroxide and warm water in a glass. Swishing the solution around the mouth for 20 seconds and spit it out. Do this after every meal to kill bacteria that may be causing the toothache.
You can also opt for the two-step rinse – follow the above process, but follow up with a mixture of 1 teaspoon of salt in some warm water. This solution can loosen debris, while the salt provides pain relief for tooth pain caused by irritated or aching gums.
Note: Swallowing peroxide can lead to vomiting, burning of oral tissues, foaming at the mouth, stomach pain and a host of other unpleasant things. Inhaling the vapors can irritate the throat, nasal passageways and respiratory tract. Higher concentrations of hydrogen peroxide can cause death, and the eyes and skin might burn upon contact with it.
6. Peppermint oil – Delicious Too
A solid dose of peppermint essential oil can numb tooth pain. Peppermint oil is one of the main ingredients in over-the-counter pain relief gels, sprays and creams. It’s an amazingly effective pain killer.
How does it work? Peppermint essential oil contains ligand, a molecule that attaches to the k-opioid receptors, stopping pain signals from reaching the brain.
- Pure peppermint essential oil
- Two tablespoons of olive oil
- Cotton balls or cotton swabs
Mix 20 drops of peppermint essential oil into the olive oil. To avoid irritation, dilute the oil first. Soak a cotton ball or swab in the mixture and pack it around the sore tooth. Repeat as often as needed.
7. Myrrh – An amazing remedy since the dawn of time
You probably didn’t know that myrrh was one of the gifts the three Wise Men brought to Jesus. It has been used as a natural remedy since Biblical times. Research shows that myrrh is a powerful antioxidant and can even help prevent cancer.
Myrrh is a sap-like substance, strong astringent and one of the most common and effective essential oils in the world.
- One teaspoon of powdered myrrh
- Two cups of water
Make a tincture of myrrh by simmering it in the water for half an hour. Strain and let cool to room temperature. Rinse your mouth with a teaspoon of the mix in half a cup of water several times a day until you feel relief.
Note: Myrrh’s anti-bacterial properties and anti-fungal benefits are more than a myth – it has been used to treat wounds and prevent infections throughout history. It can also treat athlete’s foot, acne and ringworm. However, you might be allergic to it, so we recommend applying a few drops to a clean tissue before rinsing.
How to Prevent Toothache
Toothache is the last thing people want, especially acute, pounding pain that can be so strong it borders on migraine. Of course you’ll do anything to keep it from happening…right?
Then make good on your promise. Go to the dentist regularly to make sure plaque is not building up on the teeth, causing cavities and periodontal disease, which cannot be cured.
Do not snack throughout the day. Cutting down on snacks can reduce the risk of developing teeth problems because every time you snack, the starches and sugars in the food combine with plaque in your mouth to form plaque acid, which in turn wrecks havoc on the gums and teeth. It takes up to an hour for the pH to return to normal (around 7) after snacking.
When I was a kid in boarding school in England, we were told to brush our teeth until the gums started to bleed. Little did they know then that over-brushing can actually damage the gums, making them more susceptible to gum disease. Thankfully, this didn’t happen to me – but do avoid it!
Experts recommend brushing your teeth twice a day. Always moisten the brush before applying toothpaste and always use the same amount of toothpaste. This can be hard because some brushes are smaller than others and people use less. Always buy brushes the same size and replace your toothbrush every three to six months. You can check this article to get a new toothbrush.
Pay attention to the gum line - people often miss this. You need to remove the food debris and bacteria that tend to build up there.
Most of us have experienced mild, unproblematic toothache. Maybe you feel it almost the whole time and don’t even pay attention. The issue is when mild toothache gets worse – if you neglect it, this is likely to happen. Do keep our home remedies for toothache in mind when you have this problem and share this article to help other people.
Tell us what you think in the comments section – are there any other remedies you know of? Hopefully you liked this list and can contribute more things to it. We hope we’ve been helpful and raised dental health awareness.