Home Remedies for Tooth Pain That Are Worth Trying
Ask anyone about their experience with a toothache or tooth pain, and you’ll probably hear about a nagging pain that was far too intense to ignore or relieve. If you’ve experienced one yourself, then you know a toothache can feel like it has the painful intensity of a closely orbiting sun. While that might be exaggerating, in the midst of a toothache, you can’t help but focus on the pain. It’s attention-grabbing. While waiting for your dental appointment, there are some home remedies for tooth pain that are safe to try.
If you think about the body’s innervation (our superhighway of nerves), you’ll recognize that every nerve leads back to the brain, where we process all sensations, such as hot, cold, touch, pain, and so on. The trouble with a toothache is that there are a lot of nerves around a tooth, following a parallel path to the sensation-processing center in the brain. Our brains sometimes have a hard time distinguishing the source of a sensation, such as pain. To make sure we can process the sensation and figure out which tooth is having an issue, our nerves in our teeth are made to be especially sensitive so a nice, clear signal can be sent back along the nerve to the brain. This sensitivity motivates us to get help before the tooth is beyond saving. It’s like our teeth have their own survival mechanism. Pretty clever little teeth, aren’t they? If only they could figure out a way to signal us without pain.
So how do you treat a toothache at home while you await your appointment? Here are 10 safe home remedies for tooth pain you can try for a little relief.
1. Ask your dentist.
Often, if you call your dentist to schedule your appointment and they can’t fit you in right away, they’ll have suggestions for treating your toothache. Tooth pain can be caused by many things, but your dental team is the best source for advice on making it through until your appointment. So always start there.
If you’re a current patient here, give us a call anytime, day or night. Follow the prompts for contacting a member of the dental team after business hours, and we’ll be glad to help ease your suffering.
2. Try swishing salt water.
Body temperature salt water might be helpful in numbing the pain enough so you can think about something else for a minute or two.
Dissolve a teaspoon of salt in a cup of warm water and swish for 30 seconds. You can repeat this as often as you’d like.
3. Apply ice.
When you injure your ankle, you’ll usually hear a physician tell you to ice the area. This is because ice reduces swelling and inflammation of soft tissues. Basically, it slows down the blood flow to the area, encouraging the blood vessels to contract. You can do the same for your tooth pain. Yes — this is one of the home remedies for tooth pain: if you have swelling from an infected tooth, applying ice will relieve some of that swelling and inflammation.
Always put a washcloth between your skin and the ice pack, of course. Apply the ice for 10 minutes, removing for 10 minutes before applying again. Please do not leave it on for long periods of time because it will decrease blood flow to the area. You want the area that is injured to heal, and that can’t happen without good blood flow. Also, it’s more effective at giving you relief when you switch off and on.
Aside from reducing inflammation, by alternating ice and no ice, you’re sending your brain a sensation other than pain to focus on. By removing the ice and allowing your tissue to rest, you’re essentially hitting the reset button on the signals your brain will receive again, making the ice effective at relieving your pain once it’s applied again.
4. Relax with your head elevated.
Real sleep might be out of the question, but you can at least snooze a little and relax. Try to keep your head elevated while you rest, though, to lessen your pain.
Laying with your head at the same level as your heart means more blood will go to your teeth. And as we discussed before, when you have a toothache, a higher rate of blood flow usually also means more irritation and more inflammation.
5. Eat gently.
Part of the list of safe home remedies for tooth pain is to choose soft foods that don’t really require chewing. While it might not hurt more to chew in the moment, you’ll feel the effects later. So be kind to your poor hurt tooth or teeth and choose something you can drink (like a meal-replacement drink, soup, bone broth, etc.) or eat with minimal chewing.
6. Give clove oil a try.
Clove oil has been used for medicinal purposes for centuries. It has numbing properties that can help to dull your toothache. It’s very important you don’t swallow clove oil, though, because it can numb things that shouldn’t be numb and can cause difficulty breathing.
In a small dish, pour about one teaspoon of olive oil. If you don’t have olive oil, feel free to use whatever oil you have on hand. Then, add a couple drops of clove oil. Soak a cotton ball in the mixture and then apply it to your affected tooth. Let it sit for five to 10 minutes. You can repeat this every couple of hours for relief.
7. Enjoy some black tea.
Once you’re done drinking, apply the tea bag directly to your affected tooth. The tannins in black tea can bring relief because of their astringent properties.
Sometimes gentle pressure helps to relieve the pain, too, so just keeping the tea bag in your mouth and gently biting down on it may give you some reprieve.
8. Mint tea might also help.
The naturally-occurring menthol in mint tea might help to numb the area a little, providing you with a little relief. It’s a bonus that it tastes pretty good, too.
9. Vanilla extract can add healing power.
Vanilla extract (not the imitation variety) contains an abundance of antioxidants, as well as some alcohol. That alcohol can numb, while the antioxidants reduce inflammation and help the soft tissues surrounding your teeth to heal. Not a lot of people know that vanilla extract is one of the home remedies for tooth pain that’s worth trying.
Antioxidants are good for you because they help your body combat oxidative stress. To put it simply, oxidative stress can cause injury, lack of healing, further infection, and many other issues. Oxidative stress can contribute to serious, life-long health issues, too, such as diabetes, atherosclerosis, inflammatory conditions, and more. It’s a result of too many oxygen-containing molecules with an uneven number of electrons floating around in your tissues. Antioxidants help to reduce the number of those odd-electron-containing oxygen molecules.
10. Distract yourself.
The best tool to reduce your pain is your own mind. By distracting your mind, you will be able to block out some of the pain for significant periods of time. While that isn’t helpful if you’re trying to sleep, it will prove useful in relieving some of your pain so you can make it to your dental appointment.
These 10 home remedies for tooth pain are safe and effective, but they shouldn’t replace your dentist’s advice and treatment options.