As a dentist, I typically don’t go to Google to get information about dental problems, but I know that a lot of people do – particularly in the middle of the night or when their dentist’s office is closed. One day I decided to find out what w actually comes up on the internet when people search for toothache remedies. So I did some Google searches myself. What I discovered is most of the advice is for home remedies for toothaches. Some I was familiar with, some I wasn’t.
The majority of the home remedies I found online are not what I typically recommend to my patients. But I was curious if any of them actually work. So, I did some research (mainly to dispel some of the myths) and to my surprise, some of them actually make sense scientifically.
Here’s the list, my opinion on each, and some NYC humor to go along with it:
Common Home Remedies for Toothache
Many people believe that a good way to relieve tooth pain is to place an aspirin on the gum of the affected tooth. Don’t do it! Aspirin is acidic and will burn your gums. You’d be surprised by how many people I have seen over the years who tried it and caused harm to their soft tissue.
Note: If you had a headache, would you put an aspirin on your forehead? Swallow the aspirin.
In addition to using it to ward off vampires, garlic also has medicinal value. When garlic is crushed or finely chopped two chemicals that join to form allicin, which has antibiotic properties and can offer a bit of pain relief. If you try this, make sure you crush the garlic and be aware that it can be irritating to your gums, so put it only in the cavity in the affected tooth.
Note: Garlic powder is not a substitute for fresh garlic. (It’s great on pizza, though.)
A lot of the websites I found tell you to put a piece of raw onion on the affected tooth. Because onion has antimicrobial properties it may provide a slight bit of tooth pain relief.
Note: This is not good for one’s social life.
Oil of cloves, also known as eugenol, has both antimicrobial and pain relieving properties and is a common ingredient in many dental products. Here’s how to use it to relieve tooth pain: mix 2-3 drops with olive or cooking oil and saturate a piece of cotton with the mixture. Place the cotton directly into the cavity of the affected tooth. Place a piece of dry cotton over the tooth and bite down. You can also grind or crush whole cloves with a few drops of cooking oil for the same effect.
Note: You might get some relief, but you’ll smell like the holiday ham. (I can think of worse smells.)
5. BOURBON OR WHISKEY
The alcohol in bourbon and whiskey is both an antiseptic and an astringent. Some of my patients believe they get pain relief from swishing it around in their mouths. However, any pain relief they perceive is likely due to the irritating effects of the alcohol on their gums districting their brain from the pain signals coming from the tooth.
Note: You’re better off drinking the booze. (Neat – not on the rocks because cold aggravates painful teeth.)
6. WARM SALT WATER
Warm salt water is one of the most recommended and most effective ways of soothing a toothache. Here’s how to use it: place 1/4 – 1/2 tsp. of salt in 8 ounces of very warm (not hot) water. Swish the mixture around in your mouth, then spit it out. The salt water will draw fluid away from the tissues of the affected area and reduce pressure on your nerve endings.
Note: Eating salty potato chips will not have the same effect.
7. BAY BERRY BARK AND VINEGAR
I found quite a bit on the web that recommends mixing bay berry bark and vinegar into a thick paste and applying it onto the hurting tooth as a home remedy for toothache. I’ll give this one an honorable mention.
Disclaimer: I have no idea what bay berries are.
And there you have it – a review of the most commonly recommended home remedies for tooth pain you can find on the web.
A toothache is a horrible experience and ALWAYS signals that something is wrong. When left untreated it can lead to serious health problems beyond just your affected tooth. So, if you’re in pain or have swelling in or around your mouth, you must contact a dentist as soon as possible. Even if your toothache goes away, the problem that caused it will not.
At my office, when a patient calls with an emergency when the office is closed, they will get my personal cell number (so help is literally a phone call away.) I usually tell them to drink a big glass of straight bourbon and call it a night (kidding).
For more remedies for toothache pain, check out my article: 5 Ways to Get Relief for a Toothache
Dr. Michael Sinkin is a general dentist in New York City. He loves being a dentist and is known throughout the city for taking wonderful care of his patients and for his wicked sense of humor. For more about Dr. Sinkin, click here.