Ouch! That Ache

Try these simple remedies for toothache, before visiting a dentist

Toothache“One of them’s loose, and it aches perfectly awful.”

“There, there now, don’t begin that groaning again. Open your mouth. Well, your tooth is loose, but you’re not going to die about that. Mary, get me a silk thread and a chunk of fire out of the kitchen.”

Tom says: “Aunt Polly, I will go to school, tooth is not aching all that much now.”

By this time the dental instruments were ready. The old lady made one end of the silk thread fast to Tom’s tooth with a loop and tied the other to the bed-post. Then she seized the chunk of fire and suddenly thrust it almost into the boy’s face. The tooth hung dangling by the bed-post, now.”

Author Mark Twain’s version of a time-honored method to get rid of toothache was employed by Aunt Polly in Tom Sawyer. Rather than the above, home remedies given below would be definitely preferred.

Why does your tooth ache?

Toothache could be due to something wrong with the teeth or due to other dental and non-dental causes. Some common reasons could be dental caries or decay, or a fracture of the tooth due to injury or disease, or a cracked tooth. A minute crack might be invisible and so can be difficult to diagnose. In that case, do not postpone a visit to a dentist.

Due to careless oral hygiene, malnutrition and the like, gum abscess, ulcers and inflammation could manifest in the oral cavity and cause toothache frequently. Emerging of wisdom tooth could be painful and more so if it is impacted or has less space to come out.

Sometimes, after visiting the dentist also, one might experience pain, due to irritation of the pulp following the treatment. Regardless of how well it is done, dental treatment and the materials used to fill the tooth can cause pain later. When you brush vigorously or due to some other reason, the root of the tooth gets exposed while the gums recede, this causes horripilation [goose flesh] when a person consumes frozen or hot food. Non-dental causes could include anything as simple as blocked sinuses or something more serious as heart diseases.

Patients, who are on medication for systemic diseases such as diabetes, hypertension, asthma and allergies could be more prone to dental problems if they are not on proper medication or the conditions are not under control.

What is toothache?

Toothache is one of the most unbearable conditions that can be experienced by a person. It can be throbbing, continuous pain, totally disrupting normal day-to-day activity or it can be severe, unrelenting pain, which can make a person scream in agony but the fear of the dentist may override this severe discomfort. The best advice is to visit a dentist soon. However, in cases where this might not be immediately possible, it may be necessary to try a few herbal home remedies for temporary relief.

Toothache triggered by eating sweets, overworking or exposure to cold breeze indicates tooth decay and this condition should not be neglected. If toothache lasts long, it could be due to nerve damage or inflamed nerve.

Some home remedies

  • Gargling frequently [even once in two hours if ache is severe] with any of the following solutions helps immensely — warm water with honey dissolved, warm salt solution, amla [myrobalan] decoction, warm juice or decoction of jasmine leaves or tender leaves of guava or mango, warm water with cardamom powder.
  • Gargling with warm cooking oils before food helps and more so if one can do it with medicated oils, which are specifically formulated to relieve toothache.
  • Drinking wheat grass juice helps prevent tooth decay but when one has pain, the same juice can be used as gargle.
  • You could choose any of the following to apply on the painful tooth – a mixture of lemon juice, honey, jaggery and lime or a clove of garlic crushed with a pinch of rock salt. Also place a crushed onion or clove with or without rock salt for relief. Chewing onion and placing it on the painful tooth helps too. This helps in mouth ulcers as well because it acts best on oral microbes.
  • Asafoetida [hing] should be rubbed into lemon juice, made warm before wrapping into sterile cotton and this is to be kept on painful tooth.
  • Lime prevents decay and loosening of the teeth, dental caries, toothache, and bleeding of the gums.
  • A paste of the bark of bay berry should be made with vinegar. This paste, applied on the affected tooth, will relieve the toothache. It can also be applied beneficially on the gums for strengthening.
  • Clove oil, with or without pepper powder applied to a cavity in a decayed tooth, also relieves toothache.
  • A mixture of a pinch of pepper powder and a quarter teaspoon of common salt is an excellent dentifrice. Its daily use prevents dental cavities, foul breath, bleeding from the gums, painful gums, and toothaches. It cures the increased sensitiveness of the teeth.
  • Mixture of crushed clove and peanut butter will provide relief. Apply this to the aching tooth and keep it in there for some time.
  • Chew a clove/piece of ginger slowly in the aching tooth to release the juice and leave it there for about half an hour. Do this three to four times.
  • Turmeric sticks are good for toothache. Burn some turmeric sticks, make a fine powder, and use it as toothpowder.
  • Place some pepper powder in a cotton swab and keep it over the painful tooth.
  • Apply the paste of sandal in case of gingivitis, bleeding gums.
  • Put ice cube or freezed cucumber slices on the aching tooth or on the nearest cheek for 15-20 minutes at least 3 or 4 times a day.
  • Chewing fresh leaves of spinach makes the gums strong and prevents decay.
  • Applying mustard oil with turmeric powder alleviates toothache.
  • Acupressure is effective in toothache relief.

Some tips for prevention

  • Healthy teeth are always beautiful. Brush them gently twice, so that you do not injure the gums and teeth while brushing and follow by gentle gum massage. Medicated oils are more beneficial for rinsing the oral cavity.
  • Sour fruits, hard and dry foodstuff regularly is best avoided. Eating apples, carrots and nuts daily keeps your teeth well-nourished.
  • Daily consumption of fish, flesh, sweets, yogurt, excess milk and black gram makes you susceptible to infection.
  • Sleeping during the day is bad. Avoid sleeping with face down as this could hamper circulation.
  • If you are on medication, check with your doctor and dentist before changing any medicine. Keeping blood sugar under control is essential to avoid toothache.
  • Frequent snacking, chewing betel or tobacco, pan, gutkha, different gums and smoking is best avoided and this is true in the case of excess chocolates, cakes, cookies and any sticky food.
  • Eating or drinking sweetened drinks at midnight or in between sleep can also result in dental caries.
Shantala Priyadarshini
Shantala Priyadarshini, MS [Ayurveda], is an academician-researcher. Her areas of special interest are: chronic degenerative eye conditions, compromised states of immunity, cancer and auto-immune disorders. She lives in Mysore.


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