Toothaches and related pain, like that caused by gingivitis, have a wide range of potential causes. That said, usually dental decay is to blame. When you eat sugary foods, some of the sugar gets left behind on your teeth.
If you don’t brush, floss, or rinse it away, the sugar will attract bacteria and develop into plaque. These bacteria eat away at the dental tissue. If left unaddressed, the bacteria could reach the gums, causing even greater infection.
That’s why it’s important to see your dentist as soon as you notice this type of pain. They need to fill in the cavity or remove the infected tissue to stop the infection’s spread.
- Using Basic Household Items
- Natural Remedies
- Useful Products to Have
- Staying Safe
Of course, toothaches can also be caused by injury or constant, minor dental trauma, but no matter what the cause happens to be, you still need a dentist’s help to prevent further damage.
In the meantime, you probably just want your pain to subside. Luckily, there are plenty of ways you can relieve dental pain as you wait for further treatment. Many of them only require items you probably already have access to.
Using Basic Household Items
Treating dental pain doesn’t need to be expensive or complicated. Many items you already have around the house can help you reduce your discomfort.
Keep it Cold
If you have a toothache or gingivitis pain, fill up a plastic zippered bag with ice and hold it against the affected area. Much of the pain that you experience during a toothache is the result of inflammation.
Cold temperatures constrict the blood vessels, reducing inflammation and swelling. This may be a very simple technique, but it’s one of the most effective ways to treat toothaches and gum pain.
Rinse with Salt Water
Dissolve a teaspoon of salt in a cup of boiling water. Wait for the water to reach a comfortable temperature, then rinse your mouth with the solution.
Warm salt water clears away debris and food particles stuck in your gums and teeth, which will otherwise exacerbate your pain. It also helps to drain away excess fluid in your mouth that causes swelling. Just remember to spit out the salt water when you’re done rinsing, instead of swallowing it.
Rinse with Hydrogen Peroxide
A 3% hydrogen peroxide solution will be especially effective if your toothache is the result of an infection. This is usually the case if you’re also experiencing a fever, accompanied by an unpleasant taste in your mouth.
Rinse out your mouth with the hydrogen peroxide solution, trying to swish it towards the area where you’re experiencing the most significant pain, then spit it out.
Tear off a section of a brown paper bag, soak it in vinegar, apply black pepper to one side, and hold the piece of paper up to your cheek, in a spot where the pain is most significant. This will create a warm sensation that often distracts people from their pain.
Again, as with all of these measures, it’s not a cure, and certainly not an excuse to avoid seeing a dentist. However, it will help ease your pain as you wait for your appointment.
Cover Up Damage with Gum
If you lose a filling or crack your tooth, you need emergency dental treatment. Before heading to the dental office, grab a piece of chewing gum, chew it on the unaffected side of your mouth until it’s soft, then use it to cover up the crack or cavity where the filling once was.
Doing so prevents foreign material from getting in, which not only reduces your pain, but also prevents further infection. Ideally, you should use a sugarless chewing gum, and you should avoid chewing on that side of the mouth until you’ve received proper treatment.
Keep Your Head Up
While suffering from dental pain, use extra pillows while sleeping to keep your head elevated. Sleeping with your head too low will cause more blood to rush to your teeth and gums, causing additional swelling.
Sleeping with your head elevated reduces both swelling and inflammation.
Brush & Floss
Obviously, you should brush and floss twice a day, every day, in order to prevent dental decay. When you have a toothache, it’s even more important to do so. Trapped food particles will make your pain much worse. Brush and floss to remove them. Be gentle, as you don’t want to make your pain any worse.
In fact, whenever you’re brushing your teeth, you should try to be gentle. Many people mistakenly believe that brushing with a lot of force will remove bacteria more efficiently. In truth, doing so can actually wear away at your enamel and gum tissue, making you more vulnerable to dental pain.
After you’ve brushed and flossed, rinse your mouth out thoroughly. This last step is crucial. Brushing and flossing simply remove the plaque and food particles from your teeth. If you don’t rinse, they’ll stay in your mouth, and could settle back where they were, resulting in further decay.
Rinse with Alcohol
If you have a bottle of high-proof liquor in your home—and if you’re of legal drinking age, of course—swish some around in your mouth, or soak a cotton ball in the liquor and apply it the area where you’re noticing the most pain. Strong alcohol can have a numbing effect when applied to dental tissue.
Better yet, purchase a mouthwash with a high alcohol content and rinse with that.
Not a fan of medication? There are plenty of natural remedies for toothaches and gingivitis pain that use ingredients you can find at any grocery or health store. Try the following if you want toothache relief without taking any pills.
Peppermint tea already has a pleasant, stimulating flavor. More importantly, peppermint has a mild numbing effect on dental tissue. You can buy pre-made peppermint tea, or you can easily make your own by mixing a teaspoon of dried peppermint leaves in one cup of boiling water.
As always, wait for the water to reach a safe temperature before drinking the tea. You also want to let it steep for several minutes to get the most benefits.
Don’t dismiss the effectiveness of essential oils. According to some researchers, clove oil may actually relieve pain as effectively as benzocaine, without any side effects.
You can usually find it at a health store. To relieve dental pain with clove oil, apply a few drops to a cotton swab, and hold the cotton up to the area where your discomfort is the strongest.
Sure, it won’t do your breath any favors, but when you’re experiencing major dental pain, that might be the least of your worries.
For this remedy, take three cloves of garlic and mash them up until you have a thick paste. Apply the paste to the spot where you’re experiencing pain and leave it there for 20 minutes. Garlic has a numbing effect, as well as antibacterial properties that help to keep infections at bay.
If you’re willing to deal with a little bit of heat, this remedy is even more effective than using garlic, especially if your toothache is the result of an infection.
Take some cayenne pepper—about a teaspoon should be enough—and mix it with water. Soak a cotton ball in the solution, and rub it gently over your teeth and gums.
While the heat from the cayenne may distract you from the pain of your toothache, that’s not the main reason this remedy is effective. The main chemical ingredient in cayenne pepper is capsaicin, which has been shown to block the brain’s pain receptors.
It won’t actually fight the infection, but it will limit the amount of pain you experience from an infection until you have a chance to see your dentist.
Myrrh reduces inflammation and has the added benefit of killing bacteria, making it particularly useful when you’re trying to relieve toothache pain. Mix a teaspoon of powdered myrrh with two cups of water and simmer them together for about half an hour. Strain the solution, let it cool, then proceed to rinse with a teaspoon of it about five times a day.
As with all other remedies that involve rinsing out your mouth, you don’t need to swallow the solution when you’re done. Just spit it out into the sink.
Ginger Powder & Coconut Oil
Purchase some ginger powder and mix it with coconut oil to make a paste. Apply this paste to your teeth or gums and leave it there for 15 minutes. Ginger is a strong antibacterial that will fight the infection and prevent your pain from getting worse.
Tea Tree Oil
Like many of the other items on this list, tea tree oil has antibacterial and anti-inflammatory qualities. Just soak a cotton ball in some and hold it against your teeth or gums until your pain subsides. You may have to use multiple cotton balls to get the full effect.
It may not be a “natural remedy” that you can buy at a health store, but it’s certainly more natural than taking medicine. Mindfulness meditation has both immediate and long-term benefits for people dealing with any form of substantial pain.
All you have to do is sit in an alert position so you won’t fall asleep, close your eyes, and try to focus your attention on your discomfort without judging it as being either good or bad.
Your thoughts are going to drift away from your pain frequently. This is natural. When it does happen, simply redirect your focus to your pain without judging yourself. Again, non-judgment is critical. Observe your pain as if you were a scientist studying it in a lab, instead of a person who is in actual discomfort.
Mindfulness helps people establish a distance between their pain and their actual experience of it. By not judging it as either good or bad, they can instead simply regard it from a relaxed, unstressed perspective. Shockingly, this can make it feel as though the pain isn’t actually that strong.
Useful Products to Have
You don’t need to strictly rely on natural remedies to treat a toothache. Your pharmacy is full of items that can be helpful when you’re experiencing discomfort in your teeth or gums. They include:
Over-the-Counter Pain Relievers
Over-the-counter pain medicine will primarily reduce the inflammation that is contributing to your dental pain. If you’re unsure of which type is right for your needs, ask the pharmacist to recommend the best product for dental pain from their inventory. Be sure to only use it as directed.
Although these medications are available without a prescription, they are much stronger than many people realize, and can result in unpleasant or even dangerous side effects if they’re misused.
While you’re at the pharmacy, look for a toothbrush designed specifically for people with sensitive teeth. Even if your teeth aren’t normally sensitive, when you’re experiencing a toothache, the gentle quality of these special toothbrushes will help you stay on top of your basic hygiene without exacerbating your pain. You should also look for a toothpaste that’s made for people with sensitive teeth.
Find a mouthwash with antibacterial properties, and rinse with it throughout the day, especially if you know for a fact that your pain is caused by an infection.
This is a practice worth getting into on a daily basis, even when you’re not experiencing major dental pain. That said, don’t rinse too soon after brushing, otherwise you run the risk of rinsing away the fluoride in your toothpaste.
While you’re experiencing dental pain, avoid chewing with the affected teeth, as this can expose the dental tissue to contaminants that will make the pain even worse.
Most importantly, make sure you’re in touch with your dentist. Again, there are many reasons why you might have a toothache, but all of them require professional attention.
These tips will help you reduce your pain in the moment, but only a professional can stop the progress of whatever is causing your pain in the first place.