I’ve had a mysterious hole in one of my molars for oh, about four years now. I’ve been without dental insurance for oh, about a million and a half years now, so I’ve yet to find out whether that hole is something I should be worried about. Luckily, said molar is not experiencing any pain or aches, so I’ve decided that the state of my dental health does not get a place on my “to worry about” list. However, not everyone is as lucky.
Toothaches are nasty things that can make it hard for you to eat, think, talk, sleep, and generally function. The cause of toothache can be varied (see the left sidebar), but the ultimate cure for a toothache is usually the same: go to a dentist. Lucky for tooth-achy you, though, there are lots of home remedies for toothache pain, and we offer those for your perusal here.
Causes of Toothache
A toothache can be the result of a poor diet and poor dental hygiene, or worse a symptom of a serious dental problem, or a “transferred” symptom of a serious health problem elsewhere in the body. Here are some of the more common causes of toothache in each category:
Diet and Hygiene
- eating too many refined sugars and flours, sugary drinks, candy, etc.
- not brushing or flossing teeth regularly
- dental cavity or tooth decay (often caused by diet and hygiene problems)
- an abscessed, cracked, or impacted tooth
- gum disease
- jaw problems
Toothaches can be indicators (sometimes the only indicator) of sinus and ear infections, or heart problems such as a heart attack or angina. If your toothache is not responding to home or dental treatment, ask a doctor about the possibility of transferred pain. They’ll be able to help you find the cause.
Schedule an appointment with a dentist as soon as your toothache turns from twinge to pain. Most home toothache remedies are aimed at getting rid of toothache pain, not solving the problem at the root of the toothache. Chances are, if you have a painful toothache, you have a serious dental problem that only a dentist can get rid of with medical treatment. Therefore, it’s in your best interest to spare yourself the painful experience, and possible extra medical expenses, and not wait until the toothache becomes unbearable to see a dentist.
Numb and soothe the pain of your toothache with gentle heat and cold. Hold a hot or cold pack, or ice cubes wrapped in a towel, to your jaw next to your aching tooth. Sip hot soup broth, hot tea, or eat some ice cream. Or, if your toothache is sensitive to extreme heat and cold, sip on lukewarm liquids, like tea, cocoa, or lemon water.
Don’t eat or drink foods that will make your toothache pain worse. This can mean staying away from hot and/or cold foods (see above), or foods with a lot of sugar and spices, or even foods that need to be chewed thoroughly (like meat, fibrous fruits and vegetables, etc.). Stick to liquids and soft foods at a soothing temperature to alleviate some of your toothache pain.
Use aspirin and other NSAIDs (non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs) to get rid of toothache pain. Taking the recommended dose of aspiring, aleve, ibuprofen, or other NSAIDS may be enough to relieve the pain from you toothache until you can get to a dentist. If this isn’t working, however, you can try crushing an aspirin or baby aspirin to a fine power, adding just enough water to make a thick paste, and applying this paste to the aching tooth and surrounding gum area for added pain relief.
Clove oil is a natural oil used in dentistry for its analgesic (pain relief) properties. You can purchase clove oil over the counter at pharmacies for topical toothache relief at home. Dab a small amount of clove oil on a cotton swab and hold the oil directly to the painful tooth or gum area until the oil has had time to absorb into the affected area. Clove oil has an unpleasant flavor, so it’s probably wise to keep the oil from touching your tongue.
Dental Toothache Treatments
Once you see a dentist to get rid of your toothache, there are quite a few possibilities for treatment, depending on the cause of your toothache, of course. Fillings, drilling, extraction, root canals, and crowning are all procedures used to remove tooth decay and seal the tooth off from further infection and decay.
Your dentist may also give you an initial injection to relieve the pain of the toothache, and provide a prescription antibiotic to treat infection, swelling, and fever resulting from the toothache. Keep in mind that dental diagnoses can vary widely from dentist to dentist, so being as specific as possible about your toothache pain and symptoms, as well as your diet and hygiene habits, will help you get the most effective dental treatment possible. It will also help change habits so this doesn’t happen again.