How to Treat a Toothache
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How to Treat a Toothache

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Without doubt a toothache will always come on when finding a dentist is nigh on impossible, such as in the middle of the night, on a weekend or during a bank holiday.

That then leaves the poor sufferer writhing in pain until they can get to an appropriate practitioner who can deal with the problem.

Another problem with toothache, is that few of us really know what is needed in order to alleviate the pain. In most cases, the sufferer just grabs a handfull of the nearest pain killers, only to find that this has had little or no affect on their pain.

There is of course a reason for this, pain killers are not really the way to go with a toothache, well not at first anyway.

Thing is with toothache is that 90 % of cases are caused by infection. An infection of the gum, in the cavity of a tooth or on the root of a tooth.

The infection goes on to cause inflammation. This inflammation causes swelling in the soft tissue of the mouth, which is a super sensitive area of the body. The mouth is also so tightly packed with teeth and jaw bone that the swelling caused by the inflammation can not find an outlet, hence the throbbing and excruciating pain that one feels.

So, the way to go is to stop the initial swelling, by way of anti – inflammatory tablets such as brufen -  ibruprofen or voltarol - diclofenac. Halt the inflammation and you alleviate the pain.

After taking the anti – inflammatory, wait about two hours, then take some pain relief. You don’t really need anything stronger than paracetamol as it is both a good pain killer and will bring down the high temperature brought on by the infection.

Hopefully you are now free of pain, or at least the pain is at a level where you can tolerate it.

The thing to do now is deal with the cause of the inflammation, the infection.

There are a few ways in which you can deal with this at home, these remedies however will not kill the infection completely, but may help to stop the infection getting any worse.

Chop up a couple of cloves of garlic and eat them every two hours. Garlic is a natural anti – biotic and is soon absorbed by the blood stream, so will get to work on the infection quite quickly. If you hate garlic, take one garlic tablet three times a day.

Another great home remedy is honey, particularly Manuka Honey. Again honey is a natural anti – biotic which will get straight to work on the infection. Take one teaspoon of honey three times a day.

Echinacea is also a good standby to have in your home medicine kit for toothache. As well as being another of natures anti – biotics, it is also great for giving the immune system a boost, another way of staving off infection. Echinacea comes in both tablet and herbal tea form.

The next thing you need to do is to relax, your excruciating pain has caused you so much anxiety that your heart is racing and your blood is pumping round your body like an express train, so you need to calm down.

A great way of doing this is by way of herbal sleeping pills such as valerian or nytol, or by way of a herbal tea such as camomile tea or St John's Wort tea.

Keep your mouth warm, wrap a scarf around your face if the room is cold, lie down and let the anti – inflammatories, pain relief and relaxants begin there magic.  

                              DO’S AND DON’TS WHEN SUFFERING FROM TOOTHACHE

Certainly don't get drunk, as some online remedies have suggested. Not only will you still be suffering from your toothache, but you will also have to contend with a hangover and dehydration. Getting drunk will also render all of the above remedies obsolete and contrary to popular belief, rubbing alcohol on a sore tooth does not take the pain away, all it will do is further irritate the swollen soft tissue of your mouth.

Take only the recommended doses of anti - inflammatories and / or pain relief as suggested by the manufacturers, as to take more than the prescribed dose, could lead to much, more serious conditions than the toothache you were originally taking them for.

Don't eat or drink anything too hot or too cold, as this could lead to yet more irritation of the already inflamed soft tissue, setting off the pain all over again.

Don't drink tea, coffee, energy drinks or fizzy drinks whilst suffering from a toothache, as all these drinks stimulate the senses, and you need your senses dulled, so that you can relax or better still, sleep. 

If your gums or roof of your mouth is swollen and you are finding it hard to eat or drink, take all drinks and food stuffs at body temperature. Do not eat salty, acidic or hot and spicy foodstuffs or drink freshly squeezed or concentrated fruit juices.

Milk and water are good for keeping you hydrated and mushrooms, eggs, rice pudding and natural yogurt are soft and non irritating foods to eat. If you are not suffering from tooth sensitivity, ice cream can also help to alleviate the swelling in your mouth. 

                                      STOP IT FROM EVER HAPPENING AGAIN

In order to avoid this excruciatingly painful condition from being repeated, start by taking care of your teeth and gums by beginning an oral hygiene regime and sticking to it. Most gum and tooth pain is caused by infection brought on by lack of oral hygiene, and in 90% of cases, the sufferer has only one person to blame for his / her toothache, theirself.

 Be prepared and buy in some of the above treatments in order to have the right medications to hand, in order to alleviate a toothache if it happens again.

 If you are a dentist phobic and don’t go to a dentist because you are frightened, look up any local phobia courses in your area that you can enrol at, in order for you to begin having regular dental check ups.

 If it’s lack of money that denies you access to a dentst, or even lack of a dentist in your area, begin an overall health plan for yourself by  eating a diet rich in vitamins, calcium, protein and magnesium – all requirements for healthy teeth and gums. 

Start taking some over the counter vitamin supplements and immune boosting supplements such as echinacea or garlic tablets to stave off minor infections. 

 Cut down or cut out completely the use of alcohol, cigarettes and recreational drugs - all these  lower your immune system leaving you susceptible to infection. 

 Cut down on sugary foods and drinks – as the syrupy sugar coats your teeth and gums which then begins to eat away at your gums, leading to a build up of plaque which then goes on to cause your gums to recede, which then leads to subsequent gum disease.

 Buy an over the counter anti – bacterial mouthwash or make your own anti - bacterial mouthwash, by adding two drops of tea tree oil to twenty mls of water, and use it to rinse your mouth out after brushing your teeth, in order to keep your mouth and every component of it, bacteria free and healthy. 

 Go online or ask at your local health centre to see if there are any local or visiting dentists, which belong to social or governmental schemes which offer free or cheap dental treatment in your area.

NOTE - If the pain from a toothache does not react to any of these home remedies and is accompanied by swelling of the face, convulsions, vomiting or a high temperature you need to go to your local hospital, as the pain you are experiencing could be due to an infection of the jaw bone, which needs to be treated by a medical professional as soon as possible. 

  Title image - The flower of the echinacea plant - courtesy of Ulf Eliasson, wikimedia commons.  

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Comments (13)

Thank you Dee Bee for this interesting article. Voted up. Thanks for support.

Very informative topic. Thanks

When I was a kid, my mom had us bite on a whole clove for toothaches. The tea tree oil is an excellent suggestion for homemade mouthwash - I do not like the heavy alcohol mouthwashes.

Dee Bee,You have become a versatile writer.I am very happy about it.Thanks.

Nice work!


Very helpful ideas.

In the UK it is possible to find low cost or free dental treatment, whereas here in the States we have some of the world's most expensive dentists. I recently had a root canal which cost over $1000. Many people avoid the dentist because of this but there really is no getting away from it, unless you plan on wearing false teeth by the time you reach forty.

Informative and helpful.

Thankyou everyone for your input and votes. @ Judith Barton, yes that was a favourite remedy of my mother too. @ Peter Bilton,not any more it's not thanks to our traitorious, Tory leader David ' call me Dave' Cameron, one of the country's richest men. Bet he never had a toothache for longer than half an hour.

Thanks for the info and resources; voted.

Thanks for the update DeeBee, I must be out-of-touch. They used to give free basic dental treatment at the Institute of Dentistry in Whitechapel. I hope it's still free, they don't mention cost on their website, but then again they probably wouldn't.

Ok, I just found it. Just in case anyone is in London and they need free emergency dental treatment, they should go here: Get there early as they work on a first come first serve basis.

Thanks for that Peter. -) D.