The Truth About 3 Home Remedies For Toothaches
The pain from a toothache can be excruciating. Patients with dental abscesses or infected teeth sometimes describe the pain as the worst they've ever felt. If you develop a toothache during the evening or on a weekend when the dentist's office is closed, you're probably going to be looking for a way to dull the pain in the meantime. In fact, even if you can make it to the dentist's office, you may consider trying a home remedy to lessen the pain on the way. The problem is that there are a lot of different home remedies for dental pain, and not all of them are necessarily advisable. Check out a few of the most popular home remedies to find out whether they will help or hurt.
Aspirin on The Tooth
Swallowing aspirin when you're in any kind of pain seems like a no-brainer. However, one of the most commonly recommended home remedies for toothache involves not swallowing the aspirin, but placing it directly on the tooth or the gum and holding it in place while it dissolves. This toothache relief method probably tastes terrible, but does it work?
Not only will this not relieve your pain, it's liable to make it worse. Aspirin contains a chemical called acetylsalicylic acid. The word that you need to pay attention to there is the second word – acid. Acids are typically not a good thing to hold in your mouth, against your sensitive cheek and gum tissues. If you try this, you may look inside your mouth and notice what looks like a white film inside your mouth. The film will stick around even after you rinse the aspirin out of your mouth. It's not residue from the dissolved pill – it's a chemical burn. This home remedy won't help your tooth pain, it will just add a new pain to the mix.
A Shot of Whiskey
The idea that a shot of whiskey will help your tooth pain has been around at least since the Civil War era, if not earlier. You've probably heard it from you grandmother or your neighbor – you may even have heard it from a dentist somewhere along the way. It sounds like something that should be true – you may notice that your mouth and tongue get a little bit numb when you drink alcohol, and doesn't alcohol have a sterilizing effect?
Unfortunately, despite it's common usage, this is not an effective way to treat a toothache. It won't numb you up enough, or for long enough, to really alleviate any pain, nor will it kill the bacteria that create the infections that cause toothaches in the first place. Alcohol may actually irritate your gums, which may distract you from the pain in your tooth temporarily, but doesn't actually help. What's more, the sugars in alcohol may actually cause further tooth decay, leading to more pain in the long run. Keep in mind, too, that administering alcohol to children with toothaches is not only ineffective, it can be very dangerous.
You may have also heard that kitchen substances like vanilla or lemon extract will ease tooth pain. These home remedies rely on the alcohol content in the extract, and are just as ineffective as a shot of whiskey. The upshot is that if a home remedy relies on alcohol to work, it's best to skip it.
A Garlic Clove
Garlic shows up in any number of home remedies and health care recipes. It's reported to cure almost anything from sinus infections to vampire infestation. It's no surprise that it's sometimes recommended as a way to cure a toothache, or at least to ease the pain of a toothache. But does it really work?
Reports are mixed. Garlic does actually have medicinal value. The active ingredient in garlic is an amino acid called allicin. Allicin is an antimicrobial substance, which means that it will actually fight bacteria, including the kind that cause tooth pain, and it may also provide some pain relief. If you need a temporary solution for a toothache, garlic may be the most helpful home remedy. On the other hand, it's not a sure-fire cure. If your tooth is infected or abscessed, you still need an antibiotic and dental treatment.
It's tempting to try to find a quick and easy home remedy for a toothache when the alternative is spending a day in the dentist's chair. But there isn't any good substitute for treatment from your dentist. If you're experiencing severe tooth pain, steer clear of any too-good-to-be true home remedies, and call your dentist or a place like Rose City Dental Care for an emergency appointment.