Toothache ranges from throbbing to excruciating, but your dentist can ensure that the pain is short lived. In the meantime, go to your pharmacy for a pain-numbing gel such as SM-33 Adult formula, which contains lignocaine, or Nyal toothache drops, which contain benzocaine. For general pain relief, you can take ibuprofen, paracetamol or aspirin (don't give aspirin to anyone under 16 years unless on doctor's advice). And try the following approaches.

What Causes Toothache?

Cavities often cause toothache. You get cavities from bacteria in the mouth that thrive on sugary and starchy foods that cling to teeth and gums. These bacteria produce acids that damage your teeth, and when the damage reaches a nerve, misery sets in.  There can be other causes as well. You could simply have a piece of food caught between 2 teeth, a filling might have come loose, a tooth has cracked, there's an abscess (a pocket of infection at the gum line), or perhaps you have a sinus problem.

 

Mouthwashes to relieve toothache

Rinse with a tincture of myrrh. The astringent effects can help with inflammation and myrrh offers the added benefit of killing bacteria. Simmer 1 teaspoon of powdered myrrh in 200ml of water for 30 minutes. Strain and let cool. Rinse with a teaspoon of the solution in a small glass of water 5 to 6 times a day. Alternatively try 10 drops of tea-tree oil. Tea-tree's antiseptic properties help deal with any bacterial build-up and infection. (Caution: Do not swallow either of these 2 mouthwashes.)

Peppermint tea has a nice flavour and some numbing power. Put 1 teaspoon of dried peppermint leaves in a cup of boiling water and steep for 20 minutes. Allow to cool, strain, swish it around in your mouth, then spit it out or swallow. Repeat as often as needed.

If you don't have any peppermint handy, try aniseed. It freshens breath and is also an antiseptic with mild cooling properties. Make a tea with 3 teaspoons of aniseed. Cover and steep till cool. Strain, then drink.

Try a hydrogen peroxide mouthwash. This can provide temporary relief if the toothache is accompanied by fever and a horrible taste in the mouth (both are signs of infection), but like other toothache remedies, it is only a stopgap measure until you see your dentist. Hydrogen peroxide solution should never be swallowed. Spit out the solution, then rinse out your mouth several times with ordinary water.

Stir a teaspoon of salt into a glass of warm water and rinse for up to 30 seconds before you spit it out. Salt water cleanses the area around the tooth and draws out some of the fluid that causes swelling. Repeat this treatment as often as needed.

 

Natural toothache remedies

Place a small ice cube in a plastic bag, wrap a thin cloth around the bag, and apply it to the aching tooth for about 15 minutes to numb the nerves. Alternatively, put an icepack on your cheek, over the painful tooth.

A warm, wet tea bag is a traditional remedy for toothache that may be worth a try. Tea contains astringent tannins, which may reduce swelling and give you temporary relief.

Another country cure advises soaking a small piece of brown paper in vinegar, sprinkling one side with black pepper and holding this to the cheek. The warm sensation on your cheek may distract you from your tooth pain.

According to folklore, if you massage your hand with an ice cube, you can help to relieve a toothache. When nerves in your fingers send ‘cold’ signals to your brain, they may override the pain signals coming from your tooth. Just wrap up an ice cube in a thin cloth and rub it on the fleshy area between your thumb and forefinger.

Try an acupressure technique to stop tooth pain fast. With your thumb, press the point on the back of your other hand where the base of your thumb and your index finger meet. Apply pressure for about 2 minutes. This will help to trigger the release of endorphins, the brain's feelgood hormones. (Caution: Do not try this if you are pregnant.)

 

Toothache relief: Toothpaste and toothbrushes

Use a toothpaste made for sensitive teeth. If you have a problem with receding gums, this could relieve a lot of the pain you probably experience from hot or cold foods. When gums recede, the dentine beneath tooth enamel is exposed, and this material is particularly sensitive.

Switch to the softest-bristled brush you can find to help preserve gum tissue and prevent further recession.

 

Protect your teeth

If you've broken a tooth or have lost a filling, you can relieve some pain by covering the exposed area with softened chewing gum. This might work with a loose filling, too, to hold it in place until you can get to the dentist. To avoid any further discomfort, avoid chewing anything with that tooth until you have had it repaired.

If you can get to a pharmacy, you can also buy temporary filling material, which will protect your tooth and the inside of your mouth from scratchy edges until you can get to a dentist.

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