The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimate that approximately 47% of adult Americans aged 30 years and older are suffering from some form of periodontal disease. The result of infections and inflammation of the gums and teeth, both of which can result in serious consequences if left untreated.
An analysis in the ‘Journal of Endodontics’ reviewed data collected between 2000 and 2008 regarding the presence, care and consequences of periapical abscesses – a type of abscess that occurs at the tip of the root of the tooth. The report found that there was a total of 61,439 hospitalizations during the 9-year period that was studied, all attributed to periapical abscesses in the United States, 89% of which occurred on an urgent/emergency basis. If that isn’t frightening enough, 66 of the patients hospitalized died as a result of the abscess. Consider that for a moment – 66 Americans died due to a tooth infection.
This is a reality that is all too well known to a family in Maryland. In 2007, 12-year-old Deamonte Driver was suffering from toothache pain. Unfortunately, the family was not insured and had lost its Medicaid. By the time that Driver’s tooth received the attention that it required, the bacteria from the infection had spread to his brain. Despite the best efforts of the medical professionals who were now caring for the boy, including 2 operations and more than 6 weeks of hospital care, the young boy died as a result of the infection.
Often we, as a society, we downplay the seriousness of dental pain. Turning to painkillers to mask the pain, we put off seeing a dentist longer than we should in the hope that it will clear up on its own. The truth is that a single mouth can contain more than 6 billion bacteria. If we brush and floss regularly, and make regular visits to our dentist we can keep these bacteria in check. If, however, it is allowed to get out of control we may pay the ultimate price. Dr. Bill Calnon, the president of the American Dental Association warns, “Untreated oral disease can lead to many different outcomes. It can lead to other diseases within your body. Ultimately, in rare instances, oral disease can be the focal point of a disease process leading to death.”
If you are experiencing tooth pain, it is important that you seek out the care and expertise of a dental professional, however, that is not always immediately available. Whether you are suffering in the middle of the night and need to manage the pain until the morning so that you can call your dentist’s office, or are waiting for a scheduled appointment, there are a number of effective remedies to manage the pain at home. It is important to note that these remedies are not long-term solutions as they do not address the actual cause of the pain.
Signs and symptoms of a tooth abscess include:
- Severe, persistent, throbbing toothache that can radiate to the jawbone, neck or ear
- Sensitivity to hot and cold temperatures
- Sensitivity to the pressure of chewing or biting
- Swelling in your face or cheek
- Tender, swollen lymph nodes under your jaw or in your neck
- Sudden rush of foul-smelling and foul-tasting, salty fluid in your mouth and pain relief if the abscess ruptures
Try these 14 home remedies for relief from the pain of a tooth infection:
1. Salt Water Rinses
Often recommended by doctors and dentists, salt will work to prevent the continued growth of the bacteria responsible for the infection, prevent additional infections and reduce the inflammation that is causing you pain. Simply mix ½ teaspoon of salt into a glass of warm water and rinse with the mixture as you would a mouthwash, paying careful attention to swirl the mixture around the area you are experiencing pain. Repeat the rinse 3-4 times each day for best results.
2. Peppermint Oil
Peppermint is a must have natural remedy for a number of different ailments and illnesses. With both antibacterial and anti-inflammatory properties, it will work to fight the infection, prevent recurring or additional infections and reduce pain and inflammation. To apply the oil simply put a couple drops on a cotton ball or cotton swab and place it directly on the infected tooth allowing it to sit for a few minutes. Repeat this 2-4 times daily.
3. Hydrogen Peroxide
While many professionals will warn against the potential risk of ingesting hydrogen peroxide, if used carefully it can work as a powerful treatment for a tooth infection. Mixing 2 teaspoons of hydrogen peroxide with 1 tablespoon of warm water, swirl the mixture around the infected area careful not to swallow any. Spit it out afterward and thoroughly rinse your mouth. Alternatively, you can create a paste by mixing 1 teaspoon of baking soda and 2 teaspoons of hydrogen peroxide, applying the paste directly to the infected tooth. Once again, rinse thoroughly after.
Known for being a strong antibacterial herb, cloves possess a unique numbing effect that can help you to effectively manage tooth pain while you await your appointment. There are a few options to benefit from the use of cloves. Place a whole clove in your mouth in the affected area or add a couple drops of clove essential oil to a cotton ball and place it directly on the infected tooth.
Unknown to many, potatoes actually possess antiseptic properties and acidic properties that can work to clear out toxins from your body. Simply take a slice of raw potato and place it in the area of the infected tooth ensuring that it is touching the tooth in question. Leave it to sit anywhere from 30 minutes to overnight if you are able allowing it to pull the toxins from the tooth.
The compound allicin found within garlic has been proven to work as a natural antibiotic, working to battle bacteria currently causing infections as well as preventing additional infections to form. You can apply the garlic in a couple different ways. Simply chewing on a clove of fresh garlic, keeping the clove in the area of the pain, will release the allicin allowing it to get to work. If the action of chewing is too painful, you can crush the cloves up releasing the juice which contains the allicin. Apply this juice directly to the infected tooth.
Simply drinking chamomile tea can be highly effective in the management of pain from a tooth infection. The herb possesses anti-inflammatory properties which will reduce inflammation ultimately reducing the pain that you are feeling. If you want to further enhance the benefits from your chamomile tea, place the wet tea bag directly on the infected tooth.
8. Apple Cider Vinegar
Containing both acetic acid and malic acid, apple cider vinegar (ACV) is effective as an antibacterial, antimicrobial and antifungal. It also possesses anti-inflammatory abilities, relieving the swelling that is directly causing the pain. Simply rinse your mouth with 1 tablespoon of organic apple cider vinegar, focusing on the area of concern, for approximately 5 minutes. Spit the ACV out afterward and rinse your mouth with warm water. Repeat 2-4 times each day for best results.
Used by many as a natural antibiotic, echinacea will also work to reduce inflammation and relieve the pain of your tooth infection. While there are a number of ways to apply the herb the easiest is to place 1 teaspoon into a tea bag and soak it in warm water for approximately 5 minutes. Use this mixture to rinse your mouth, focusing on the area of the infection. You can repeat the process 2-3 times daily for better results.
10. Oil Pulling
A remedy that has been used to clear the mouth of bacteria and toxins, oil pulling can help to contain your tooth infection and provide relief while waiting on your appointment. Placing approximately ½ to 1 tablespoon of a plant oil such as coconut or sunflower oil into your mouth, swish the oil around in your mouth focusing on the areas of concern for approximately 15-20 minutes before spitting it out. Rinse your mouth adequately afterward remembering that the oil has collected the toxins, so you want to ensure that there is none left behind. You can repeat this process twice daily for better results.
Turmeric is known for being a powerful anti-inflammatory. As inflammation is the reason that you actually feel pain from the infection, reducing the infection will provide you with short-term relief. Mix 1 teaspoon of turmeric powder with warm water, adding the water slowly until the mixture forms a paste. Apply the paste to the affected tooth and allow it to sit for 15 minutes before rinsing.
12. Black Tea
A simple black tea bag can be used to fight infections and provide relief from pain. Soak the tea bag in warm water the way you would if you were steeping tea for a few minutes. Wring it out and place it directly onto the source of your pain allowing it to sit for a few hours. To further boost the benefits, rinse your mouth afterward with salt water.
13. Oregano Oil
Widely used for the treatment of tooth infections, oregano oil will number the area, fight the infection, promote drainage of the infected tooth, and prevent additional infections from occurring. It is also said to speed up the healing process. Simply pour a few drops of the oil onto a cotton ball or cotton swab and place it directly onto the infected tooth allowing it to remain for approximately 5 minutes.
One of the oldest known and accepted remedies for pain, ice can work effectively to number the area and reduce swelling providing you with short-term relief. Wrap an ice pack or a bag of ice cubes in a towel or cloth before applying it to the affected area. Allow it to sit for 10-15 minutes at a time, repeating the process at least 2-3 times daily.