Finding Effective Relief from Toothache Pain
The most common cause of toothaches is tooth decay—and over a quarter of adults in America have untreated tooth decay. Tooth decay is often ignored because the person either isn’t aware they have cavities or they are aware but are putting off receiving treatment.
When tooth decay has progressed far enough to cause pain, the damage has already been done. A toothache isn’t like a rolled ankle that will heal over time. The longer you wait, the worse the decay will get, and the more invasive (and expensive) treatment options will be.
Experiencing a toothache is at best an annoyance and at worst a reason to visit an emergency room. While severe toothache pain, especially coupled with fever and swelling, does warrant emergency attention, the average toothache can be dealt with at home while you wait for your dental appointment.
Here are 5 safe and effective home remedies for toothache pain that will bring you some relief until you can see your Middletown, Ohio, dentist.
1. Swish with a warm salt-water solution.
Warm salt water is very soothing when it comes to easing oral pain, and it’s a gentle, natural disinfectant. In fact, if you’re ever had an extraction, your dentist may have included warm salt-water rinses in your aftercare instructions for these reasons.
Mix half a teaspoon of salt (sea salt is a great choice) with 8 oz of warm water until most of the salt is dissolved. Swish a mouthful at a time until the cup is empty. Be careful to not swallow any of the solution.
2. Try a diluted hydrogen peroxide rinse.
Another rinse option is diluted hydrogen peroxide. Hydrogen peroxide has effective antibacterial properties and healing effects, but it must be properly diluted to prevent irritation.
To do this you will mix equal amounts of 3% hydrogen peroxide to water (i.e. 4oz of both, mixed in a cup). You can do this with lukewarm water if you have cold-water sensitivity. Swish and spit. Be extra careful to not swallow this rinse and never use undiluted hydrogen peroxide.
3. Apply a hot or cold compress to the area.
Depending on the pain you’re experiencing, you might find relief with either a hot or cold compress. For general soreness, a hot compress can feel wonderful when applied. For pain accompanied by swelling, a cold compress will do the trick and help reduce swelling.
Be sure to never apply ice packs directly to your skin, always use a clean rag as a buffer. For a hot compress, a clean sock filled with rice, microwaved until warm, works well.
4. Take OTC pain relievers or try numbing gel.
Over-the-counter pain relievers, whether pain medication or a toothache-specific solution, are great home remedies.
Both ibuprofen and Tylenol are popular choices and are often paired together when a severe toothache with swelling is present. Call your dentist or doctor to see what dosage is safe. As far as numbing gels go, products such as Orajel can be helpful and are found at nearly any store. Orajel should be used strictly as directed and never on children.
5. Swab clove oil onto the affected tooth.
Clove oil is one of the classic toothache home remedies worth looking into. Clove oil contains eugenol, an ingredient that’s essentially a natural anesthetic. However, clove oil is very strong and special care must be taken to only apply it directly to the tooth.
To use clove oil safely, apply some to a cotton swab or ball and dab it onto the tooth. Leave this for a few minutes and remove it. If you find the oil to be too strong, dilute it with olive oil or water to a more comfortable level.
The internet is full of misinformation when it comes to home remedies for toothache pain—some of which are simply ineffective and others potentially harmful. Stick with the methods listed above and don’t hesitate to ask your dentist for advice.
When a Toothache Requires a Visit to the Dentist
As a general rule, you should schedule an appointment with your dentist if you’re experiencing a toothache. The only situation where an appointment may not be required for a toothache is if the soreness is related to a one-off incident. For example, if you bit down on a tortilla chip the wrong way, jabbed your tooth, and are now feeling mild pain—chances are you won’t need to see your dentist if your toothache subsides within the day.
Some red flags that there’s an underlying issue causing your toothache include:
- Frequent tooth pain or pain that doesn’t fade within a day.
- Pain caused by sensitivity to temperatures (hot/cold) or food textures (crunchy/hard).
- Physical damage to the tooth or surrounding teeth (chips, cavities, cracks, etc).
- Pain or swelling in the gums, including pain or bleeding while flossing.
- Additional symptoms, such as fever, signs of infection, headache, etc.
If you’re experiencing any of the above red flags, you need to call your dentist, explain your symptoms, and get an appointment scheduled. For serious toothaches, your dentist may even be able to squeeze you in on the same day, especially if concerns over an infection mean starting antibiotics immediately is vital.
Severe pain, especially when coupled with fever, facial swelling, or a throbbing migraine, may warrant a trip to a Middletown, Ohio, emergency center if your dental office is closed.
The most an ER will be able to do is give you something for the pain or start you on a course of antibiotics if an infection is present. You’ll still need to see your dentist for treatment ASAP, but if your toothache is uncontrollably painful and infection is flaring up, an ER visit might be your only option for after-hours, weekends, or holidays.
Prevent Future Toothaches with Regular Checkups
The interesting thing about toothaches is how preventable they are, especially in comparison to other medical emergencies. Toothaches are one of the top five reasons for ER visits, and according to the American Dental Association, roughly 80% of these millions of visits were preventable.
When you’re ready to make an appointment, give Great Miami Dental Associates a call to schedule an appointment with Dr. Lang. Not only will we be able to get your toothache under control, but he can help you get on the path to a healthier smile overall.