When a toothache strikes, it can be an extremely painful time and something you want to find relief from as soon as possible.
Whilst some toothaches will require a trip to the dentist to identify the cause of the problem and potentially address any issues, some toothaches can be temporary and can be tackled at home using a variety of pain-relieving techniques.
Why do you get a toothache?
A toothache can be caused by any number of issues, however, the most common causes are an issue with your tooth itself or your gum.
It’s important to try and figure out where the pain is coming from as this will help you to determine the best way to treat the toothache using a home remedy. You may need to try and reduce some swelling, relieve some specific pain or tackle some other symptoms.
Some of the remedies below can help to relieve the pain caused by toothache, however, if your symptoms continue for more than a day or two, it is advisable to make an appointment with your dentist as there may be something more significant that is causing the pain in your tooth and they can treat the issue and look to prevent future pain.
There are some things you should try to avoid if you have a toothache. You can read more about the dos and don’ts when experiencing a toothache in one of our other posts.
What are some home remedies to help with toothache?
Whilst home remedies are a good way to treat a toothache, you should always check with your dentist or doctor before using any home remedy if you are pregnant, breastfeeding or have any other medical conditions that could be impacted by using a home remedy like the ones listed below.
There are a number of home remedies you can try depending on the severity of your pain. Once you have identified where the pain is coming from, then try using one of the following remedies to reduce your pain:
1. Saltwater rinse
One of the most common home remedies for toothache is a saltwater rinse. One of the common causes of a toothache is food or debris stuck between two teeth which can then lead to inflammation of the gums. A saltwater rinse is a great way to dislodge any substances that may be stuck between your teeth.
Saltwater also serves the dual purpose of acting as an anti-inflammatory due to its natural disinfectant properties.
A saltwater rinse is typically one of the first things you should try and is a simple home remedy comprising of a ½ teaspoon of salt mixed with warm water which you can rinse and gargle like a mouthwash.
2. Cold compress
Whatever is causing your toothache will often lead to inflammation. Reducing the inflammation can often lead to a reduction in the levels of pain you are experiencing and a cold compress is a great way to help to “numb” the pain.
If you have an ice pack at home, wrap it in a tea towel or cloth and hold it against the area where you are experiencing pain for 15-20 minutes. Reapply every hour until the pain has subsided.
If you don’t have an ice pack, you can wrap ice cubes in a tea towel or cloth and this will do the same job.
Why is toothache relieved with cold water?
Another potential option is to hold ice water in your mouth for several seconds at a time. This acts in the same way and can also be used to rinse out the area, potentially helping to dislodge anything that is stuck between your teeth. Ice water will help to numb the area and provide you with relief.
3. Tea bags
Whilst this might sound like a strange one, tea bags can be used to help provide relief for toothache and sore gums. Ideally, a peppermint tea bag is best thanks to the natural bacteria-fighting properties of peppermint, however, patients have used all sorts of tea bags to help relieve pain.
The tea bag method can be used with either warm (not boiling) tea bags or tea bags that have been put in the freezer and left to cool. The tea bag can help to numb the pain and soothe sensitive gums but should only be applied sparingly as tea can stain teeth over time.
For the warm tea bag method, allow the tea bag to cool down so it can be touched without pain and apply to the area experiencing pain. For the cold tea bag method, pop the tea bag in the freezer for a few minutes before applying it to the painful area.
4. Guava leaves
This is a home remedy that many people have not heard of, however, guava leaves are a great thing to have around the house, especially for times when a toothache hits.
Guava leaves have anti-inflammatory action and antibacterial ability that fight infections and kill germs. The juice from the guava leaves is also said to provide relief from swollen gums and oral ulcers.
As well as helping with relief from toothache, guavas themselves have numerous health benefits, containing vitamins A, C, K, E, and B2, plus minerals such as manganese, phosphorous, potassium, copper, and calcium. Guava leaves have also been proven to be very effective for digestive problems and balancing high cholesterol.
Guava leaves can be purchased here in New Zealand and once you have them, you can either chew on the leaves or make a guava tea from crushed leaves that you can gargle with once it has cooled.
Like guava leaves, thyme also has powerful antibacterial and antioxidant properties that make it ideal for tackling infection and reducing pain. It can even help to tackle bacteria that can contribute to tooth decay so could even be integrated into your overall oral health routine.
Thyme can be used in two ways to treat a toothache: applied directly to the tooth or used as a mouthwash. If you are going to apply the thyme directly to the tooth, mix a drop of thyme oil with water and then apply the mixture to the tooth using a cotton bud.
The most common method for using thyme is to create a mouthwash. Simply mix a drop of the oil into a glass of water and rinse and gargle as you would with a mouthwash. As well as offering antibacterial properties, this can also help to dislodge any debris that may be caught between your teeth.
Prevention is better than treatment
Whilst all of these home remedies may help to relieve the pain of a toothache, and may even help to heal the problem, none of these is a fix for your long-term oral health.
Professional dental care and a consistent oral health routine are important steps in preventing toothache from developing in the first place.
Brushing your teeth twice a day, flossing at least once a day and using a mouthwash between brushing will all help to ensure you protect your overall oral health, helping to reduce the risk of a toothache developing in the first place.
This should also be coupled with regular visits to your dentist who can pick up on any early signs of problems that could lead to toothache and pain later down the line, putting in a plan to tackle these before they develop.
If you do have a toothache and you have tried any of the remedies above, make sure you book in to see your dentist as soon as possible before the problem gets worse.
At Hamilton Dental Centre, we specialise in pain-free dentistry and we want to make all our patients as comfortable as possible when they visit us. If you do have a toothache that has been going on for more than a day or two, call us for an appointment and we can help to get to the root of the problem and ensure you get the best possible treatment for the problem, preventing the issue from returning in the future.