A toothache can be so painful that it can disrupt your daily routine. Whether it’s getting in the way of comfortably eating, speaking, or sleeping, it’s essential to find relief as soon as possible. However, with so many painkillers available in the market, knowing what to take to effectively relieve tooth pain can be challenging.
Over-the-counter medications like acetylsalicylic acid, ibuprofen, acetaminophen, and benzocaine are among the most popular painkillers for toothaches. Home remedies for toothaches include salt water rinses, hydrogen peroxide rinses, peppermint tea bags, clove oil, and vanilla extract.
Common Causes of Toothaches
The treatment for your toothache and the remedies that help relieve pain can depend on the cause of your discomfort. Your toothache may result from the following:
- Tooth decay: Advancing tooth decay can expose the nerves inside the tooth and cause pain.
- Losing a filling: If you lose a filling, the cavity can be exposed, requiring a new filling.
- Abscessed tooth: A dental abscess can cause an accumulation of pus beneath the gum’s surface, leading to pain.
- Wisdom teeth: If your wisdom teeth are breaking through the gums or are putting pressure against the other teeth, you’ll feel pain in the area.
- Gum disease: Gingivitis or advancing periodontal disease is inflammation of the soft tissues, causing pain surrounding the tooth.
- Bruxism: Clenching or grinding your teeth can worsen tooth or jaw pain.
Medication for Toothaches
Choosing pain medication at the drugstore is an accessible way to manage tooth pain while you wait for your dentist appointment.
Aspirin (ASA). Is not first choice for pain meds, can cause ulcers and reduce platelets which may affect blood clotting
Ibuprofen is a good anti-inflammatory, but can cause stomach ulcers. Not recommended for people with stomach problems. Should take with some food . Cannot be taken if already taking ASA or another NSAID. Can also affect blood clotting
Acetaminophen, found in Tylenol, is often associated with fever relief but can also be a powerful pain reliever. It works by blocking pain signals to the brain. However, it doesn’t reduce inflammation that may be causing your toothache and may be a less effective choice.
Benzocaine is a topical anesthetic, often in a cream or gel form, that can help relieve toothache pain. It works by numbing the area around the tooth to dull the pain, providing the relief you need to fall asleep or manage your day.
Natural Remedies for Toothaches
If you’re worried about over-doing pain medication, there are several natural remedies to try, including:
Salt Water Rinses
Often the first line of defense, salt can help remove bacteria and disinfect the mouth to promote reduced inflammation.
Hydrogen Peroxide Rinses
Another ingredient that eradicates bacteria, hydrogen peroxide can support the natural healing of open sores causing tooth pain. However, it’s essential to dilute it properly to avoid irritation.
Peppermint Tea Bags
Peppermint leaves in a tea bag can numb the affected area and can be used slightly warmed or chilled.
Vanilla contains antioxidants, and the extract contains alcohol, numbing the pain—however, artificial extract isn’t effective; it must be natural.
Using food-grade clove essential oil, dilute the ingredient with an edible carrier oil, such as coconut or grapeseed oil. Soak a cotton ball in the mixture and apply it to the affected gums and soft tissue. Be careful of the clove oil’s potency—it can cause burning, irritation, or sores to develop in the mouth.
What Can Make a Toothache Worse?
While relieving pain is crucial for comfort, avoiding anything that can worsen the toothache is equally important. By understanding what to avoid, you can help alleviate pain and support a speedy recovery.
Some common aggravators of toothaches include:
- Hot and cold foods: Hot foods can cause the tooth nerves to become more sensitive, while cold foods can cause sharp pain. Opt for warm but not hot drinks and foods that are at room temperature.
- Hard and crunchy foods: Foods like nuts, seeds, popcorn, or candy can irritate the painful tooth, while sticky foods like caramel can also stick to your affected tooth and cause pain.
- Brushing and flossing: Oral healthcare habits may seem like a good idea when you have a toothache, but it is essential to be gentle to avoid worsening a sensitive tooth.
Treat Toothaches at the Source
Toothache pain can feel unbearable, but your dental team can help treat the problem. Regular exams and cleanings are essential to maintaining consistent dental health and identifying dental issues in the early stages.
Schedule an appointment at Markham Dental Smiles for your upcoming cleaning and see our dedicated team if your toothache persists or is accompanied by other symptoms like swelling or fever.