What Causes Toothache?
Before we jump into the remedies, let’s take a look at what causes toothache. Understanding what causes pain is important in knowing how to deal with it.
By far the most common cause of toothache is tooth decay. Your teeth are covered with a hard white layer known as enamel. This enamel is what protects the sensitive interior of your teeth. It’s the one that allows you to bite and grind your food without any pain. But while this enamel is so strong, you need to take care of it. Improper care allows bacteria in your mouth to bore a hole through this protective layer. And this is going to be painful.
How do bacteria get on your teeth in the first place? Well, there actually is bacteria living in your mouth. This is normal and you shouldn’t worry about it. What isn’t good, however, is when food particles stick to your teeth. The bacteria use this food for their energy. And in so doing, they produce plaque, that sticky yellow layer you sometimes find on your teeth.
Bacteria “eating” your leftover food also produces acids. And when bacteria, plaque, and acids start to build up, they can melt through the enamel of your teeth. That’s how tooth decay works, it’s how cavities are formed. If you start to feel toothaches, it may be because the bacteria are getting deeper into your teeth.
What Can You Do?
Now that you know what causes toothaches, you’ll now want to know what you can do about it. Again, the best thing to do is to see a dentist. If not, you can try these home remedies.
The most popular, and arguably the best, home remedy for toothache is the saltwater rinse. All you have to do is mix salt with water and use it as a mouthwash. Half a teaspoon of salt should be good enough for one glass. But if you want a stronger solution, you can always add more.
Salt is so effective because it has natural antibacterial properties. Salt sucks the liquid out of bacteria, killing them through osmosis. This is why salt can relieve toothaches caused by bacteria. Mix the salt with water so that you can get into the tiny cracks and holes on your teeth.
What’s great about saltwater is that it also works against inflammation. If your teeth are swollen, it can be annoying aside from painful. Salt can reduce the inflamed areas of your mouth. And if you happen to have oral wounds, salt can help heal them as well!
A great way to relieve any pain in your body is by using a cold compress. And it works just as well for toothaches. Take ice, wrap it in a towel, and press it lightly against the affected area. What this does is it constricts blood vessels, numbing the area. The cold can also prevent your teeth and gums from swelling.
Though cold compress can ease the pain, it won’t kill bacteria. So this is by no means a permanent solution. It is best to use this for toothaches caused by trauma. If you fall on or are hit in the face, your teeth may hurt. A cold compress is the best way to relieve this type of pain. Saltwater won’t be effective for this because it isn’t caused by bacteria.
For centuries, people have been using oil pulling for oral problems. There isn’t a lot of scientific evidence, but practice shows that it is an effective way to get rid of toothache. This is because oil pulling can kill the bacteria eating at your teeth.
Oil pulling isn’t very pleasant though. To do it, you need to swish a tablespoon of oil in your mouth for a good 20 minutes. But not any oil. The best oils for oil pulling are coconut oil, olive oil, and sesame oil.
Herbs and Spices
There are more antibacterial substances in your kitchen then you may realize. Several common herbs and spices can also be used to treat toothache. For example, slow chewing garlic will release its bacteria-killing and pain-relieving properties. You can also use peppermint tea bags in the affected area.
You can also use other herbs and spices as a mouthwash. Cloves, thyme, vanilla extract, and herbal essential oils are all effective at getting rid of pain.
If nothing seems to work, use painkillers. While this isn’t exactly a home remedy, everyone should have some around for severe situations. If it gets to this point though, you should see a dentist. A painkiller won’t kill bacteria or fix a broken tooth. It will only stop your suffering long enough for you to get professional attention.
When Should You See a Dentist?
When things get bad, you should see a dentist right away. But how do you know when your toothache is serious? How do you know when a home remedy won’t do you any good? Let’s look at some of the signs that you need professional care immediately.
Pain can be dealt with with a home remedy. But if the pain lasts more than a day, it’s time to visit a dentist. Something serious is going on if these home remedies can’t deal with the pain.
If your toothache comes with a fever, this is a bad sign. It’s a sign that your tooth is infected already. If this happens, go and see a dentist as soon as possible.
If you haven’t been hit, yet your teeth and gums swell, this may be an abscess. Tooth abscesses form when bacteria have entered the sensitive interior of your teeth. This causes infection, which causes pus to form, which causes swelling. Only dentists can handle tooth abscesses.
If you are having a hard time breathing, this means that things are going too far. This means that your tooth infection is already spreading. It is spreading to your gums, bones, and the rest of your face. If you’re careful, this shouldn’t happen. There are plenty of red flags before this comes up. But if it does, know that you are in a serious condition.
Prevention is the best cure. You probably heard that before. When it comes to your oral health though, this can’t be said enough. It is so much easier to take care of your teeth than to try to cure it. Simple measures go a long way.
Never underestimate how important brushing your teeth every day is. If you miss a day, this gives the chance for plaque to harden. And once plaque is hard, toothbrush bristles may no longer get rid of them.
Aside from brushing, it is also important to floss. Those tight spaces between your teeth are often packed with bacteria. This is because food particles get stuck in there a lot. If you don’t remove these by flossing, bacteria will build up fast. So brush and floss your teeth every day to avoid unnecessary toothaches.
While bacteria will use any food left on your teeth, they especially like sugary ones. You’ve surely been told that sweets give you cavities before. This is somewhat true, though it’s not actually the sweets that form the cavities. It’s the sugar-loving bacteria that live in your mouth. Plaque and acid are the by-products of bacteria using sugar. This is why one way to prevent your teeth from decaying is by cutting on sugary foods.
Drinking and Smoking
There are a lot of reasons why drinking alcohol and smoking cigarettes are bad for your health. One of them is that they speed up tooth decay. Alcohol does this by eroding your protective enamel layer. Smoking does this by slowing down saliva production. Saliva plays a big part in keeping your teeth clean. With reduced saliva, bacteria can build up so much faster.
Visiting Your Dentist
It is important to visit your dentist regularly, even when nothing is wrong. Having your teeth checked-up and professionally cleaned ensures good oral health.
Whenever you have a toothache, visiting a dentist is the safest and most effective treatment. The remedies listed here are merely suggestions for those looking for alternatives. Use them at your own risk.
Take note that some of the remedies (specifically oil pulling and the herbs and spices) lack deep scientific studies. Their effectiveness is based mostly on experiences.