Toothache is a pain in or around a tooth. Minor toothache can come from temporary gum irritation that you can treat at home. More serious toothache is caused by dental and mouth problems that will need to be treated by a dentist.
Toothache can be extremely painful because the pulp inside your tooth contains sensitive nerves, tissues, and blood vessels. When these nerves become irritated or infected by bacteria, it can cause severe pain. Toothache can be caused by a number of things, including decay, infection, and injury. If you are experiencing mouth pain, it is important to see a dentist as soon as possible to determine the cause and get treatment.
If you have some minor tooth pain or can’t get to a dentist right away, try one of these home remedies for some short-term relief.
Rinse with salt water
Many people find that a salt water rinse is an effective first-line treatment for toothache. The natural disinfectant properties of salt can help reduce inflammation and heal any oral wounds. Swilling it around your mouth can also loosen food particles and debris that may be stuck in between your teeth. To use this approach, mix half a teaspoon of salt into a glass of warm water and use it as a mouthwash.
Rinse with diluted hydrogen peroxide
A three per cent hydrogen peroxide solution diluted with an equal amount of water can help relieve pain and inflammation when used as a mouthwash. This is because hydrogen peroxide can kill bacteria and reduce plaque, in addition to healing bleeding gums. Swill the rinse around your mouth, but do not swallow.
Take over the counter pain medication
Ibuprofen is classified as a non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drug (NSAID). It works well for dental pain because it relieves pain and lowers inflammation – a cause of many mouth-related aches and pains. Other choices of pain medication include paracetamol and aspirin.
If you choose aspirin, swallow it with water, you may have heard to rub it into the sore gum but it’s an old wives’ tale and may harm the gum more than heal it.
Use a cold compress
If you have a swollen face, placing a cold compress against your cheek can help reduce any pain and swelling associated with a toothache. To do this, hold ice wrapped in a towel to the affected area for 20 minutes at a time as needed.
Swelling of the face can indicate that you have an abscess, a sac of pus and gunk sitting deep in the root of your tooth. An abscess can cause a serious infection in your jaw and other teeth. Signs of an infection include swelling, fever and red gums.
Over the counter anaesthetics
Apply these pain-relieving gels and liquids directly to the sore tooth and nearby gums. They contain benzocaine, which will numb your mouth for a little while. Anaesthetic gels are meant for short-term use only.
There are also some alternative natural remedies you could try.
One popular natural remedy is cloves. Cloves have been used to temporarily relieve pain for centuries. Historically, a toothache was treated by inserting a clove into the infected tooth or cavity. Nowadays, the best way to use cloves to soothe toothache is by applying clove oil to a cotton ball and placing it against the tooth for around 20 minutes.
If you do not have clove oil, a pinch of powdered clove can be applied. Alternatively, you can try chewing a whole clove with the affected tooth.
Cloves contain the active ingredient eugenol, which is a natural anaesthetic and has anti-inflammatory properties.
One study found that eugenol is more effective at reducing pain, inflammation, and infection than another type of analgesic. Study participants who used the eugenol-based paste also found their wounds healed better than study participants who used another treatment or no treatment at all.
Try a peppermint teabag for relief
Peppermint has been found to have moderate antibacterial effects and some antiviral and fungicidal properties. This means it could help fight any bacteria that is causing your toothache.
To try this remedy, brew a cup of peppermint tea, remove the bag and allow it to cool down to at least room temperature then place the teabag to the affected tooth.
How to prevent toothache
Since most toothaches are the result of tooth decay, good oral hygiene practices can prevent toothaches.
- Brush your teeth. Spend two minutes twice a day brushing with a soft toothbrush and fluoride toothpaste.
- Floss regularly. Once a day before you brush your teeth is recommended. This helps remove any food particles that could be stuck between teeth and can’t be reached by brushing alone.
- Use a non-alcohol mouthwash in conjunction with brushing and flossing. This helps to reduce bacteria in your mouth and the amount of dental plaque that forms. Some mouthwashes also contain fluoride which helps strengthen teeth and reduces the likeliness of cavities.
- Drink plenty of water and eat a balanced diet. Limiting your sugar intake goes a long way in maintaining healthy teeth. Bacteria in plaque convert sugar to acid, which attacks tooth enamel causing tooth decay.
- Visit your dentist regularly. A routine check at the dentist every six to 12 months ensures potential issues can be spotted early, so preventative action can be taken before big problems develop.
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Disclaimer: This article contains general information about health issues and is not advice. For health advice, consult your medical practitioner.