Dealing with a toothache is no fun, especially if you can't see your dentist right away. If you've tried over-the-counter medicines and aren't getting any results, or you'd like to avoid them altogether, here are six safe ways to manage the pain until your appointment time arrives.
Cloves contain eugenol, a natural anesthetic, and they work wonderfully as a natural pain killer. In fact, a recent study by the British Association of Oral and Maxillofacial Surgeons showed that a eugenol-based treatment was better at controlling post-extraction pain and inflammation than using a chlorhexidine-based gel.
To reap the benefits, place a few drops of clove oil on a cotton swab and gently wipe on the affected tooth and gums. If you don't have any oil, you can use a single clove. Without crushing or cutting it up, rub the clove on the area until it goes numb.
Black tea contains tannins—substances that have been shown to pull toxins out of the body. So when used properly, black tea bags have the potential to pull out the bacteria that's causing pain. Some patients report this method worked great at alleviating pain and pressure from an abscessed tooth.
Use a wet black tea bag that's slightly warm and hold it against the tooth for 30 minutes at a time. The warmth increases blood flow to the area and makes it easier to draw out the infection. You can try this method as often as you need until you can get to your dentist.
Warm Salt Water
Salt water can help soothe pain and inhibit bacterial growth by raising the pH in your mouth. Bacteria prefer an acidic environment, so making a quick rinse can work wonders for sore teeth and gums.
Mix 1 tbsp of salt with a cup of warm water and swish well, concentrating the rinse around the sore tooth. When the salt water cools, spit it out and rinse again. To get the best benefits against pain and inflammation, repeat the rinse 3-4 times a day.
Using a cold compress can bring about a lot of relief. If you've ever wondered how it works, the cold shrinks blood vessels at the site, diminishing the swelling and pain. Hold a bag of ice or frozen peas against the cheek for up to 15 minutes. You can also try alternating cold and warm compresses, but extended use of heat therapy can sometimes make the pain worse, depending on the cause. So if your pain intensifies, stick with just the cold compress.
Pressure Point Therapy
Pressure point therapy, or acupressure, has been around for many years, and there are a number of places on the body that can be used to wipe out pain from a toothache, including the face, hands, legs, and feet. One of the more popular spots is the fleshy area situated between the thumb and pointer. As long as you're not pregnant, simply press these two fingers together tightly, and you'll see a raised area of muscle. Lightly press the highest point until the pain subsides.
If you are expecting, stick with acupressure sites that are safe for you and your baby and won't possibly trigger labor, which means avoiding the feet, hands, and abdomen. There are several places on the face that are acceptable, and one of them is at the base of the cheekbone, directly in line with the pupil.
The other spot is situated between the upper and lower jawbone. If you clench your jaw, you'll feel a bump of muscle in front of your earlobe. Lightly press the dip in front of that bump to get the best relief.
Soft Bristle Brush
If your toothbrush is overly stiff or brittle, it can make brushing uncomfortable or even painful. But you can't neglect your oral hygiene while waiting to see the dentist. Switching to a soft brush, even one that's made specifically for toddlers, can make brushing much more comfortable.
These pain remedies should not take the place of seeing your dentist. Always follow up with a professional who can narrow down and treat the cause of your toothache.