Do Toothache Home Remedies Really Work?

January 19, 2015

Warning: This article was written as an informative piece to list some of the common folklore home remedies for tooth pain. If you are having tooth pain, for best results contact a dental professional.

Undoubtedly, at one point when you suffered a toothache, a well-meaning but ill-informed friend or relative suggested you put a bit of bourbon on a cotton ball and place it on the throbbing tooth to ease the pain. Maybe they told you to rub a bit of clove oil on the sore spot.

While many people swear by these home remedies, the truth is none are scientifically proven to ease your tooth pain in the long term. The only way to successfully treat a toothache is to go to your trusted family dentist, such as AZ Family Dental, which can diagnose the problem and treat the cause.

Still, many people believe in the power of home remedies, so we thought we’d take a look at the most popular toothache treatment methods and discuss how effective (or ineffective) they are at offering long-term toothache pain relief. We will also explore the AZ Family Dental and what can happen if it is left untreated, plus give you toothache tips for easing pain that really work.

Why Use Toothache Home Remedies?

Natural toothache remedies have been around since the first caveman suffered the first cavity. Why do these remedies persist in these days of advanced medicine and excellent healthcare? There are three main reasons:

  1.Fear of treatment. People get scared that a toothache will mean painful or expensive dental treatment. Rather than get their cavity filled, they would rather put off a visit to the dentist.
  2. Belief in natural remedies. There are people who believe strongly in homeopathic remedies. They would rather get toothache relief without drugs or medical intervention simply because they avoid any office visit at all costs.
  3. Lack of time. In today’s busy society, many people do not want to take the time to go to the dentist outside their usual two cleanings per year. They figure they can use a toothache home remedy to deal with the pain until their next appointment, when they will fully address the issue with their dentist.

The problem with all three of these reasons is that the longer you go without treatment, the more serious your toothache can become. Toothache symptoms might be caused by:

  • Cavities
  • Inflammation of the pulp in your teeth
  • Tooth enamel erosion
  • Bruxism, or grinding of the teeth
  • Periodontitis
  • Sinus pressure
  • Temporomandibular joint disorder
  • Angina
  • Heart attack

These afflictions do not just disappear overnight. Does toothache go away on its own? Generally, no. That’s why the best toothache remedy is seeing a dentist. A problem that might have been remedied with a simple filling a few months ago could morph into a complicated infection that requires antibiotics or even dental surgery.

By using home remedies, you put off the inevitable dental work that must be done, and in the long run you may even cost yourself money. After all, it’s a lot more expensive to treat a dental problem with complications than one that’s straightforward with a clear course of treatment. Still, many people persist in trying to treat themselves.

The Most Popular Toothache Remedies

Like old wives’ tales, the most popular toothache home remedies have been around for years. Here’s a breakdown of the seven most popular home remedies for toothaches, along with a look at directions and how safe and effective they are.

1. Clove Oil

Why Cloves?

Cloves contain a natural anesthetic called eugenol, which numbs whatever it comes in contact with.

How to Use It for Toothache Relief

Drip a drop or two of the oil onto a cotton ball and apply it to the throbbing tooth.

Does It Work?

Clove oil may numb the affected area temporarily, but it is short-term relief lasting only a few minutes.

Is It Safe?

Not entirely. Clove oil can make pain worse if it comes in contact with other sensitive areas of your mouth, and it will hurt your tongue as well.

2. Peppermint Tea Bags

Why Peppermint Tea Bags?

Wet, used tea bags are often used to calm sensitive skin. Peppermint has numbing properties similar to cloves, useful for treating pain.

How to Use It for Toothache Relief

You can use peppermint tea bags in two ways. First, apply a cooled tea bag right on the throbbing area. Second, put the tea bag in the freezer for a few minutes, then apply it to the tooth. Keep the tea bag on for at least 20 minutes.

Does It Work?

There is anecdotal evidence that tea bags can lessen the pain. However, there is no long-term benefit, as pain comes back minutes after the bag is removed.

Is It Safe?

Yes. An herbal toothache pain relief method will not hurt you in any way.

3. Salt Water Treatment

Why Salt Water?

Salt water cleanses are often used to clean out an infected area, loosening debris and providing temporary relief.

How to Use It for Toothache Relief

Swish a small amount of salt water or saline solution in your mouth for 30 seconds. You can repeat once or twice.

Does It Work?

The cleansing effect of the salt can get rid of some nasty bacteria or festering pus, but salt water rinses provide no long-term benefits.

Is It Safe?

Yes. Salt water is all natural and, as toothache remedies go, one of the safest things you can do for your mouth.

4. Hydrogen Peroxide Rinse

Why Hydrogen Peroxide?

Hydrogen peroxide, much like salt water, is a cleansing aid, but it is even more effective than saline because it can attack bacteria rather than just rinsing it away.

How to Use It for Toothache Relief

Mix equal parts 3 percent hydrogen peroxide and water, and swish the mixture in your mouth for 30 seconds. You can repeat once or twice.

Does It Work?

The rinse may provide a few minutes of temporary toothache pain relief, and it can help ward off gingivitis, which is a potential cause of toothache pain.

Is It Safe?

No. The dangers of using hydrogen peroxide outweigh the benefits. If this solution is ingested, it can cause stomach or intestinal problems, and if you do not mix in enough water, the hydrogen peroxide can burn your mouth.

5. Bourbon-Soaked Cotton Ball

Why bourbon?

Bourbon has numbing properties, as do most alcohols.

How to Use It for Toothache Relief

Put a bit on a cotton ball, and cover the throbbing tooth with the cotton ball.

Does It Work?

Bourbon may provide a few minutes of relief, but the reduction of toothache symptoms is temporary. They will come roaring back as soon as the alcohol evaporates.

Is It Safe?

No, especially if you are using it to treat a child. Though many think the small amount of alcohol used in this popular toothache home remedy is minimal enough to be safe for kids, the truth is that any amount of alcohol ingested by a child can have serious consequences, such as seizures or throwing up.

6. Garlic

Why Garlic?

Garlic acts similarly to an antibiotic, and it can inhibit the growth of bacteria that is attacking your tooth.

How to Use It for Toothache Relief

You can use garlic in two ways. First, mash a garlic clove and a dash of salt, and apply the paste to the throbbing tooth. Second, pop a clove or two of garlic into your mouth and chew. Repeat two or three times per day.

Does It Work?

The garlic may temporarily relieve pain, but it depends on what the cause of your toothache is. For example, if it is caused by temporomandibular joint disorder, garlic may not offer any relief at all.

Is It Safe?

Yes. However, you may find people backing away from you at parties – noshing on garlic is a classic cause of bad breath.

7. Vanilla Extract

Why Vanilla Extract?

Alcohol is one of the active ingredients in vanilla extract, and as we have already established, alcohol acts as a numbing agent. Also, the scent of vanilla is believed by many to be soothing and relaxing, which can help ease pain.

How to Use It for Toothache Relief

You can use vanilla extract in two ways. First, dab a small amount of it on your finger and rub the throbbing tooth and gum area. Second, apply a small amount of vanilla extract to a cotton ball and place it on the affected area. Repeat two or three times per day.

Does It Work?

Vanilla extract can offer temporary relief of tooth pain, but it lasts for minutes and requires frequent reapplication.

Is It Safe?

No. While the amount of alcohol in vanilla is fairly minimal, it is still alcohol, and this method is especially unsafe for children.

How Should I Treat My Toothache?

As you can see, home remedies are not generally effective in toothache treatment, and in some cases they can even be dangerous. A few of these natural remedies for toothaches may be useful to numb pain temporarily before you can get an appointment with your dentist, but none of them are long-term solutions.

What can you do to treat your toothache? Going to the dentist is the best remedy for a toothache, because you want to treat the toothache’s cause, not just the pain you are feeling.

Toothache tips to help you through this painful period:
When you call to make your appointment, ask your dentist’s office if there is anything it recommends to deal with pain.
Get an appointment as fast as possible, even if that means moving around your work schedule or canceling another event.
Use ice to numb the pain. Though this provides no long-term relief, it is simple and requires no special ingredients, plus it’s not dangerous to your oral health.
Record everything you can about your pain: when it started, how frequent it is, where it is in your mouth. This will help your dentist determine your toothache treatment plan.
Discuss possible root causes of the toothache with your dentist. If the toothache has been caused by angina, you should be getting treatment for that as well.
For the future, remember to practice proper dental hygiene, such as flossing and brushing regularly, which will help to ward off further toothaches.

Questions About Toothaches

Home remedies for toothaches are often used because people do not understand what is causing their pain or worry that their toothache may be a symptom of another, more serious problem. Here are some frequently asked questions about toothaches, and answers that should put your mind at ease.

Question: Is toothache a sign of pregnancy?

Answer: Yes, it can be.

For a couple trying to get pregnant, a woman’s toothache may be cause for celebration rather than despair. That is because hormonal changes in your body during pregnancy can lead to toothaches caused by more sensitive teeth, tooth decay, and gum disease. A toothache during pregnancy may also be associated with severe morning sickness that results in frequent vomiting, eating away the protective enamel around the teeth, or increased consumption of sweets due to sugar cravings.

Question: Does a toothache just go away?

Answer: No, this almost never happens.

Many people wonder if they can wait out a toothache, hoping it will simply disappear rather than require treatment. This is generally a poor strategy. Toothache causes range from the somewhat serious, including cavities or erosion of tooth enamel, to the very serious, including an abscess or chest pains. These conditions will not go away on their own, and chances are even if your tooth pain subsides for a short amount of time, it will return as the underlying cause worsens.

Question: Can a toothache cause an ear infection?

Answer: No, but it may be the other way around.

A toothache can be a symptom of an ear infection. If an ear infection goes undiagnosed, the pain may eventually spread to the nearby jaw and teeth, resulting in the toothache. The good news is, this pain is easily treatable. Antibiotics can fight the ear infection, and most earaches will go away on their own within six weeks even without medical treatment.

Question: Should I go to the emergency room for a toothache?

Answer: Yes, under certain circumstances.

As we have established, toothaches can be a symptom of serious conditions, even a precursor to a heart attack. Other indicators of heart attack include:

  • Shortness of breath
  • Sweating
  • Anxiety
  • Vomiting
  • Stomach discomfort
  • Upper body pain

If you are experiencing those other symptoms, then a trip to the emergency room may be in order. However, in most cases, you should skip the ER and make an appointment with your family dentist, who knows your dental history and will be able to identify the problem much more quickly than an ER doctor without access to that background.

The Best Course of Action for Toothache Symptoms

Toothache home remedies may offer temporary relief from tooth pain, but in order to find long-term relief, you must visit your family dentist to get the treatment and care your teeth need.

In the long run, this will also save you money. The quicker you get treatment for your toothache, the less serious the problem. If you let the toothache go for weeks or months in hopes of avoiding a trip to the dentist or saving money, there is a real chance the problem will grow worse. That is not the path you want to take.

Are you suffering from tooth pain that just won’t go away? Contact AZ Family Dentist today to set up an appointment to get your toothache treated. We serve the greater Glendale, AZ, area, including Scottsdale, Phoenix, Peoria, and beyond.

Would you like to share?