A toothache is a pain near your teeth. Sometimes the cause is dental, like cavities or gum disease. In other cases, the pain might be referred to the teeth but may stem from a non-dental cause.
Either way, toothache pain is very uncomfortable, especially for children.
If you or your child have a toothache, it’s time to make an appointment with your dentist as soon as possible.
In the meantime, however, you’ll need to control the pain and discomfort. Here are some of your best options for controlling toothache pain.
What Actually Causes a Toothache?
Toothaches have several differential diagnoses, some of which are problems with the teeth and gums, and others which are referred as pain from non-dental causes. Some of the most common underlying causes of tooth pain include:
- Inflammation of the pulp, the dental tissue beneath the enamel, due to ongoing tooth decay.
- Dentin hypersensitivity, which occurs when the enamel has eroded to expose the dentin beneath it.
- Apical periodontitis, an inflammation of the periodontal ligament and alveolar bone.
- Dental abscesses, collections of pus that can lead to sepsis if left untreated.
- Alveolar osteitis, or “dry socket,” after tooth extraction.
- Temporomandibular disorder.
- Myofascial pain.
- Angina pectoris, which refers pain to the lower jaw.
These are just a few of the most common causes of toothaches. Your dentist will be able to accurately diagnose the issue. If it turns out it’s not your teeth or gums, you may need to see a different medical specialist depending on the cause of your pain.
Home Remedies for Toothache Pain
When you have a toothache, you may need to find ways to control the pain so that you can continue with everyday life until your upcoming dental appointment. Here are some of the best remedies for tooth pain. They cannot treat the underlying problem, but they can reduce the amount of discomfort that you experience.
Tylenol, NSAIDs, or other OTC medications.
Anti-inflammatories can come in handy for tooth pain. Taking an NSAID like ibuprofen or naproxen, or taking acetaminophen (Tylenol), can help reduce the pain.
Many people report that toothache pain subsides if they swish saltwater around in their mouths. Salt has a long history of use as an anti-inflammatory and antimicrobial treatment. When you swish saltwater in your mouth, it lowers the pH temporarily, creating an alkaline environment that can kill bacteria. Unlike Listerine and other mouthwashes, it won’t irritate your mucous membranes.
Like saltwater, hydrogen peroxide can be used as a mouth rinse. It helps kill bacteria and cleans your gums, and may also help reduce toothache pain.
Household spices and other kitchen ingredients.
Many common kitchen ingredients purportedly reduce pain, although it’s not always clear what’s an old wives’ tale and what actually works. Vanilla and other flavor extracts can be dabbed on the affected area. They’re generally alcohol-based and can have a numbing effect. Garlic may also be helpful, as it has antimicrobial effects. This is also true of other Allium species, like red or white onions and leeks. Some people also like peppermint tea. The warmth can soothe a toothache, and the plant has mild anti-inflammatory properties that may be of modest benefit.
Herbs with analgesic properties.
Many plants have pain-killing and anti-inflammatory properties, and can be brewed into herbal teas or inserted into capsules for consumption. Akuamma seeds are popular for this purpose, as are Devil’s Claw, white willow bark, ginger, and turmeric.
See Your Dentist ASAP
These remedies can help reduce the pain and inflammation caused by a toothache, but they don’t really address the underlying problem. You should also make an appointment with your dentist as soon as possible to get a diagnosis and the right treatment. You may need to have a cavity filled, or you may need to be treated for gum disease. You could also need antibiotics. Pain relief remedies are helpful, but they’re not a cure for any of the underlying causes of tooth pain.