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Toothache remedies. Do they really work?

Updated on February 25, 2013

Toothache problems and causes

First of all, let my start with one thing. If you have a toothache it means there is something wrong with your tooth. Your body is telling you that you need help. Toothaches rarely go away by themselves. Normally, they don't get any better, they only get worse. You do not want to leave your toothache until it's too late. You do not want to lose your tooth because you didn't seek help. So make sure that you do make an appointment with your dentist as soon as possible.

Toothaches can occur in any range of severity : from mild to severe. They can be caused by problems such as tooth decay, wisdom tooth, pulpitis, cracked tooth etc. These problems can occur due to poor oral hygiene; due to eating too much acidic, starchy or sweet foods, or due to dental trauma.

It is important that you brush your teeth at least twice a day (if possible it is ideal to brush them after every meal) and that you visit your dentist at least twice a year.

So what can you do to ease your toothache? And most importantly, do these methods work?

Just a few weeks ago I was also in agonizing pain which was caused by one of my decayed tooth. There were several things that I tried while waiting for my appointment with the dentist. I probably tried everything that I read or heard about, I was in so much pain! Here I am going to give you my personal experiences of all the toothache "fighters" that I have tried during my "ordeal".

1. Painkillers - there are quite a few over the counter painkillers which can help with toothaches such as Ibuprofen or Paracetamol. My dentist advised me to take 2 Ibuprofen tablets and after 4 hours 2 Paracetamol tablets. Then again 2 Ibuprofen tablets after 4 hours and 2 Paracetamol tablets after another 4 hours. And so on. He said that this will ease the pain and will keep it under control. It didn't really work me. I needed a stronger painkiller. So I went to my local pharmacy and they gave me a painkiller called Nurofen plus. I was quite impressed with this painkiller I must say. This was the only painkiller that really worked for me (I had a medium to severe toothache). It actually stopped my toothache in less than 5 minutes. And kept it away for about 12 hours. But you must make sure that you do not take it with anything else (especially not with Ibuprofen as Nurofen is Ibuprofen based). You should not take more than 3 tablets a day, and you shouldn't take this painkiller for longer than 3 days as it contains Codeine which can be addictive.

2. Clove oil - you can also get this in most pharmacies. Apply clove oil directly on your tooth with a cotton bud. Repeat this about 3 times a day. Avoid your skin, especially your lips, as it can irritate them (I wish I had known this earlier). Clove oil is an effective antiseptic and will help to numb the pain. This also worked quite well for me, but only for short periods. The effects didn't last longer than 1 hour. And because I didn't take care when applying it, I also ended up with some nasty burn marks on my lips that peeled off after few days.

3. Rinse your mouth with Listerine - some people claim that this simple thing was enough for them to get rid of the toothache. This worked for me in the beginning. When my toothache just started. But later on when my tooth started to ache more and more, Listerine didn't work at all.

4. Rinse your mouth with salted water - I have heard about this remedy so many times. Probably you have as well. This remedy is promoted all over the Internet. And when I was battling with my toothache I rang my dentist and he said to me to rinse my mouth with salted water to get rid of the toothache while I was waiting for my appointment. I had so many hopes in this remedy. And guess what? It didn't work for me. It actually made my toothache worse. Despite of this, I know many people (including my family members) for whom it worked. I guess, it is worth a try.

5. Ice cubes - I have read about the "ice remedy" in an article about toothache remedies on the Internet. I thought, why not, let's give it a try, my toothache can't get any worse (this was before I tried the salted water remedy). I put an ice pack on the outside of the mouth, where my tooth hurt. It did give me some relief, but it wasn't long term either. But I have read some success stories with ice, so just give it a try, you might find it helpful.

6. Alcohol - by this I don't mean "forget about your problems and go and get yourself completely drunk until you feel no pain at all". No, this is not what I mean. And you shouldn't even use this method if you are taking painkillers as well. You can get rid of your toothache by rinsing your mouth with a shot of any liquor (the stronger the better, personally I used whiskey) that you have in your house. Or alternatively you can dab alcohol directly on your tooth. This will help to numb the pain. This method worked for me quite well, my toothache lessened for about 4 hours.


Now after reading this, I can imagine that I might have put you off to try few of these toothache remedies. But you must remember that this was only my experience. Just because some of them didn't work for me, it doesn't mean that they won't work for you. The same with the toothache remedies that helped me. Just because they helped me, it doesn't mean that they will work for you as well.

Also remember, that these remedies are only temporary solutions. None of them will actually get rid of the cause of your toothache. You will need to seek the help of a dentist who can treat the cause. Visiting the dentist and treating the root (literally) of the problem is the only long-term remedy that helped me with my toothache.

Please feel free to comment below. And if you can add any of your own experiences with toothache remedies, you are welcome to do so.


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    • Larry Rankin profile image

      Larry Rankin 2 years ago from Oklahoma

      In my experience, homespun remedies can alleviate pain in the short term, but any significant problems require consulting a professional.

      Interesting hub.

    • profile image

      shumai nyagura 4 years ago

      for toothache regular use of the tiens toothpaste is very helpful email