Today I’m sharing home remedies for a toothache, but not just any home remedies, and not just any toothache. I’ve been dealing with a horrible toothache. The worst pain I’ve ever experienced. It’s stemming from an infection in my nerve and travels up my entire face, into my ear, down into my throat. It makes me crazy. Makes me scream, cry, kick and want to hurt the universe in retaliation.
I went to the dentist and he said I need to see an oral surgeon. The oral surgeon is booked weeks in advance. Excruciating pain is not an emergency apparently, when they can keep the infection from killing you with good, old-fashioned penicillin. The hospital laughed at me when I asked if they could just rip my tooth out for me. So here I sit, in pain for weeks to come. Constant pain alters your entire personality. I’ve dealt with chronic pain for years, but this? Whole new experience.
Yet I can’t sit here screaming and crying every day. I have a business to run, a child to raise. So I’ve been trying every single home remedy for toothaches under the sun. Some of them are truly nasty, some cause more pain than the freaking tooth. Some actually give me a bit of peace so I can work. Those are the home remedies that I’m sharing with you. I hope you don’t need them. I hope you’re here for preventative measures, to keep this in a “just in case it ever happens” file. If you’re here because you’re dealing with an excruciating tooth ache, my friend, I literally feel your pain.
Home Remedies for a Really Awful Toothache
It should go without saying that you should see a dentist if you have a toothache. I’m not a medical professional, nor do I play one on TV, in the movies or even in my own imaginary world. This is not medical advice, but rather for informational purposes based on my own personal experiences. Talk to your dentist first before trying. Talk to your doctor first before trying if you have medical conditions. There, I think that should sufficiently cover my behind. On to the home remedies that have worked for me for this dreadful toothache.
Salt Water Rinse
As outrageously simple as it sounds, the most old-fashioned, simplest home remedy for toothaches actually provided me with the most relief. I had to make the water really salty (I used plain old table salt). Don’t make it too hot. It should be warmer than room temp, but not as hot as your first cup of morning coffee. Swish, spit, repeat. Do this a few times over five minutes. You should feel relief for a good hour.
DO NOT do this if you have any cuts in your mouth (I didn’t). Also, if you are on a low-sodium diet, I think you should ask your doc first if this is okay. You’re spitting out the salt, yes, but that doesn’t mean it can’t still get into your system.
My boyfriend recommended this to me because it worked for his toothache in the past. He made a paste of garlic powder and water, then rubbed it on the affected area. It tastes kind of nasty- even if you are a garlic lover like me- but it does give great relief. I’ve read of others using garlic salt combined with black pepper, or using vinegar to make the paste. Others also say chew on a garlic clove. Garlic in all forms seems to be the number one recommended home remedy for toothaches.
Clove Oil…Sort Of
The active ingredient in just about every OTC toothache remedy kit, clove oil can theoretically work wonders at numbing the pain of a bad tooth. A lot of people swear by it. However, it burns the carp out of everything in its wake. I am not graceful enough to just get it on the one little spot that it needs to touch, so I end up fervently rinsing my mouth out to alleviate the burning pain on my tongue and lips after I use it. Still, if you can work it to where it needs to be, it’ll provide some relief. I find that the relief is short-lived though. If you have an actual cavity, you can pack a piece of cotton soaked in clove oil down in it. I don’t have that to work with. I have a chipped molar. No place to shove cotton balls. Maybe I’m doing something wrong, but clove oil is my least favorite on this list. I’m only including it because it’s one of the most popular home remedies for toothaches, so it may work very well for you.
I know it sounds crazy weird, especially since when you have sensitive teeth you avoid cold, but ice-cream has been my best friend during this fiasco. Of course, ice-cream is always my best friend. We’ve just gotten closer. Eating it on the side that hurts is just SO soothing. From what I’ve read, if cold soothes it, it’s a huge warning sign that the nerve has gone very bad. Which means if you haven’t gotten to the dentist yet, do so. Unfortunately, holding ice packs on the side of your face really don’t do much. Besides, ice-cream is the only thing on this list that actually tastes good, so why mess with a great thing?
While ice packs on the outside are a bust, heat compresses rock. These are especially useful if your pain travels into your jaw and ear. I was clenching so much from pain that the muscles in my jaw felt like I spent a month chewing rocks. This is one of those things you should talk to your dentist about first, because if you have an infection, some sources say NOT to use heat. I don’t apply it right to my tooth area, but rather to the area around my ear. The best one for me is a simple tube sock filled with uncooked rice, then tied in a knot. I microwave it for about a 45 seconds and hold it up to my face. Bliss, my friends.
Brushing with a Sonic-Type Toothbrush
I have this great toothbrush that I got as a gift for being one of the Cision Research top Mommy bloggers last year. It’s a Violife Slim Sonic Toothbrush. I love that thing so much. It’s like $12-15, yet has incredible sonic power in a little package. I’m telling you this because it’s one of the most cost-friendly options for a sonic-type toothbrush. The vibrations from it are super soothing on my irritated nerve. When you have a toothache, brushing can be a nightmare. This actually gives me some relief while letting me keep up with oral hygiene.
Change head positions
This doesn’t work alone, but combined with other remedies, simply changing the way you have your head positioned can really help. Example: sleep with the head of your bed elevated. I am SO thankful I got the Pivot base with my Serta now! Try laying ON the side that hurts for a bit, then switch to the other side. Sometimes a change in blood flow can make all the difference in the world. When it gets really bad after sitting for a while, standing up and walking around a bit actually helps. After a bit, that starts to hurt more, so laying down helps. It sounds so silly, but I kid you not, it really helps to constantly change the position of your head.
Hot Black Tea
Depending on your pain, if you can handle hot beverages, plain old hot black tea helps. Hold it in your mouth a few seconds before swallowing when you’re drinking it, or use it as a rinse. When you’re done, use the tea bag as a compress on the affected tooth for longer-lasting relief.
Some of these home remedies for bad toothaches give longer-lasting relief than others. The salt water and garlic tricks definitely last longer than the relief you’ll get from eating ice-cream, sadly. Sometimes one thing will work one day but not the next. You kind of have to mix and match, try different things in different orders to see what gives the most relief. Again, this is not meant to be medical advice or replace a visit to your dentist. Also, one last word of advice: talk to your regular doctor too. The dentist gave me penicillin and it wasn’t working. After I wrote this article, I went to my regular doctor. He switched me to another antibiotic. I still have pain, but the infection went down a lot, so the pain isn’t nearly as intense. I think dentists may have a limited repertoire of antibiotics? Anyway, it’s worth a try.
If you have any other great home remedies for toothaches, PLEASE let me know in the comments.