Do Toothache Home Remedies Actually Work?

Whenever you get a toothache, there’s typically a well-intentioned but ill-informed friend, relative, or coworker who has a “sure fire” home remedy to rid you of your pain.
Often passed down from generation to generation, these home remedies can range from reasonable to downright odd. And while the best course of action when you have a toothache is to schedule an appointment with the Center for Beautiful Smiles, we understand that sometimes you’re crunched for time, traveling, or simply cannot get into our office immediately.
So while NONE of these remedies is a long-term solution (and some, not even a short-term solution), we think it’s important that you know the truth behind many of the most popular home remedies. Maybe one of them can ease your pain a bit before you come in to see a licensed professional.
Clove Oil
The remedy: Since Cloves contain eugenol, a natural anesthetic, dripping a drop or two onto a cotton ball and applying it to the tooth in question can dull the pain.
The reality: Clove oil can work temporarily, but the relief won’t last more than a few minutes. Additionally, it can make pain worse if it comes in contact with your tongue or other sensitive areas or your mouth.
Bourbon-soaked Cotton Ball
The remedy: Bourbon, along with most alcohols, has numbing properties. Apply some to a cotton ball and use that ball to cover the tooth in question.
The reality: Pain relief will only remain until the alcohol evaporates. While typically safe for adults, this should be avoided for all children. While many believe the amount of alcohol is trivial, for kids, alcohol consumption in any amount can lead to serious issues such as vomiting or seizures.
The remedy: Garlic is nature’s antibiotic, with properties that allow it to inhibit the growth of bacteria that is causing your toothache. You can either mash it up with salt and apply it as a paste to the painful tooth or pop a whole clove or two into your mouth and chew.
The reality: The effectiveness largely depends on the cause of your pain. If it isn’t bacterial, then it may not help at all. And while perfectly safe, you won’t want to talk to anyone while garlic is shoved into your mouth.
Peppermint Tea Bags
The remedy: Peppermint tea bags that are wet and used can calm sensitive skin, so you can either place a cooled tea bag directly on the painful area or freeze a tea bag and apply it like an ice pack for approximately 20 minutes.
The reality: Since this is an herbal method, it’s safe, and there is anecdotal evidence that it can relieve pain. That being said, the pain will return in a matter of minutes after the bag is removed.
Salt Water Treatment
The remedy: Salt water or saline cleanses are often used to clean out infected areas and provide temporary relief. A quick 30 second swish of salt water can be repeated once or twice.
The reality: All natural and totally safe, a salt water rinse can help rid of bacteria and festering pus that may be in your mouth, but it won’t provide any long-term benefits.
Hydrogen Peroxide Rinse
The remedy: Similar to salt water, hydrogen peroxide has been used as a cleaning aid, albeit one that more aggressively attacks bacteria. Mix equal parts 3 percent hydrogen peroxide and water and swish for 30 seconds, repeating once or twice.
The reality: The rinse may provide temporary pain relief and help prevent gingivitis, but this remedy is dangerous for a few reasons. If you mix the peroxide incorrectly, it can burn your mouth, and if you ingest the solution, it can cause intestinal or stomach problems.
Ultimately the best course of action, when you have a toothache, is to schedule an appointment at the Center for Beautiful Smiles, so our dentists can give their professional opinion. However, if you need a temporary fix, be smart about which home remedies you choose. You don’t want to do more damage than good.

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