We've all had a toothache at one point or another, but it isn't always easy to get into the dentist to get it taken care of. I wrote this post to help you in those times when it is impossible or impractical to get to a dentist. Hopefully, after reading these home remedies for toothaches, you’ll be armed with the knowledge to minimize your discomfort and speed up your healing.
What this post is not – this won’t be another tired laundry list of 21 home remedies for a toothache. Unfortunately, these shallow kinds of posts tell you what you could do, but not what you should do and in what order, what things you should do at the same time and which ones will effectively cancel each other out. Unlike other posts I've seen, the advice I'm going to give you is using common things you have around the house.
Curing a toothache at home requires a well-thought out plan of attack. It also helps for you to understand what mechanism the “remedy” is working on so that you can make substitutions in a pinch. Make sense? Before we get started, let’s get the disclaimer out of the way. I’m not a doctor or dentist. The advice in this article isn’t a substitute for professional medical care and you shouldn’t use it as a reason to avoid going to the dentist. It is only meant to help if you can't get into the dentist right away.
First, let’s cover what happens when you have a toothache. A severe toothache is caused by an infection (almost always bacterial) of the gums and/or root(s) of a tooth. Side effects of the infection, besides pain, can include swelling and inflammation of the area. The swelling and inflammation are both the cause of the pain and your body’s natural response to try to fight the infection. As the tissue swells, it pinches nerves in the area, causing you to feel pain. One of the more challenging aspects of getting rid of a toothache is that most, if not all of the infection will be below the surface of the skin, making surface treatments relatively ineffective for killing the bacteria outright. Our goal here is to reduce the pain and help our own immune system to beat the infection.
Ways to help your body fight the infection
Change your eating habits while you have a toothache – sugar and foods containing a large amount of refined carbohydrates have an inflammatory effect on the body. This can weaken your immune system and make it harder for your body to naturally fight the infection. It can also make your toothache worse by increasing the inflammation in the infected area. Refrain from sugary food and drink as well as refined carbohydrates while you have a toothache.
Altering the pH – microbes actually have a fairly limited range of pH that they thrive in. Tipping the balance in either direction (more acidic or more basic) can make the environment less favorable for them and give your immune system a chance to get the upper hand on the toothache.
To alter the pH in your mouth, you can pour a glass of apple cider vinegar or white vinegar and swish it around in your mouth for 30-60 seconds. After an hour passes, dissolve a tablespoon of baking soda in eight ounces of water and do the same thing. Alternate like this during waking hours until the pain subsides.
Using anti-microbial foods
Several recommended toothache remedies have antimicrobial properties, but because the infection is below the skin surface, they won’t do a whole lot to cure the infection.
Just like the antibiotics that your doctor prescribes, there are several natural food items that have antimicrobial properties. The best toothache remedy that you may have seen is probably garlic. I’ve seen some posts recommend placing chopped garlic on the site of the toothache, but this is minimally effective for the reason that I just mentioned. A better way to enlist this bacteria fighting powerhouse is to create a cocktail of freshly chopped garlic, V-8 or tomato juice, the juice of a lemon, and a dash of cayenne pepper. I use this drink anytime I feel a cold coming on but it works on toothaches as well. In addition to the antimicrobial power of the garlic, the vitamin C in the tomato and lemon juice and the cayenne pepper provides a double boost to your immune system.
Drink this 3-4 times per day until you get rid of the toothache.
Reduce the pain and swelling
Because the pain of a toothache is caused by swelling, a quick way to reduce pain is to reduce swelling. An ice pack can be applied to the affected area to bring the swelling down. Try alternating with heat and cold. Alternately, swishing with salt water made from a teaspoon of table salt dissolved in eight ounces of water will also work.
If you have them available, some over-the-counter pain medications also work to reduce swelling/inflammation. These include aspirin and acetaminophen. Be sure to follow the instructions on the label. Any swelling reducing techniques can and should be used in conjunction with the other techniques recommended.
Some recommended treatments numb the nerves in the area, tricking your body into thinking that the pain is gone. Examples of this approach are applying a paste of salt and pepper or ground cloves to the area. This paste can be made by mixing a half-teaspoon of any food-grade oil with enough salt and pepper or ground cloves to form a thick paste. Then apply the paste to the affected area. Another technique to numb the area is dipping your finger in distilled alcohol such as whiskey, rum, vodka or bourbon and then rubbing it on the affected area. These numbing techniques can also be used in conjunction with the above approaches until the pain subsides.
When you're fighting an infection, your body can always use extra water to help flush out the battlefield mess. Drink at least eight ounces of water every waking hour for the duration of the toothache.
Hopefully you can see how each of these home remedies work together to get rid of a toothache. Each works on a different mechanism of the infection and when taken together, create a very powerful and natural toothache remedy. Do you have a favorite home remedy for toothaches that I didn't mention? Post it below in the comments!