Is that toothache driving you crazy? Let's face it, toothache can hamper your daily functions - to say the least. Not only it can be disabling - to an extent to prevent you from eating your favourite food - it can also hinder your facial and jaw movement.
The excruciating pain arises from the deepest part of a tooth which is the pulp region. This part has living connective tissues and sensitive nerve endings and may get infected or swollen for various reasons, sending out pain signals from the centre. Dr. Anju Sood, a Bangalore-based Nutritionist and Wellness Expert says, "Healthy teeth are essential for good digestion and quick metabolism as they are the first body-parts to come into contact with the food." She advocates a limited consumption of foods with high sugar content as they can lead to bacterial attacks causing cavities and tooth decay.
There are a lot of causes that can lead to a tooth ache, ranging from tooth decay (let's pick up our brushes twice daily, people!) to more serious ones like a gum disease, an infection, tooth trauma and bruxism or compulsive grinding of teeth. It is imperative to visit a dentist as soon as you notice some pain in your teeth, accompanied by swelling around the tooth area, pain on biting or chewing and a foul-tasting discharge from the tooth. Today, you've run into some luck - here are some common home remedies for toothache to keep you calm before you reach your dentist.
1. The Traditional Clove
Eugenol, the primary chemical compound found in clove, is a mild anaesthetic. Cloves help to numb the nerves in the tooth and thus alleviate pain. This spice can be used in more than one way for toothache. Use the whole clove or powdered clove by placing it on the tooth and chewing it a bit to release its oil, or you can simply apply some clove oil. However, one must be careful while using pure and concentrated clove oil; applying it directly on the infected region may worsen the pain if it flows onto the tongue or stings sensitive or exposed gum regions. A cotton ball, doused with a couple of drops of this oil, placed between the teeth should work.
2. Salt-Water Swishing
Hot water with salt dissolved in it works as a natural antiseptic mouthwash. Swishing it around the mouth for at least thirty seconds before spitting it out, helps to remove debris that may be stuck in crevices around the infected tooth, preventing further infection. This natural treatment can be repeated many times and has no side effects. Dr. Anju Sood explains that the use of salt water increases the salt concentration in the immediate environment of the tooth and attacks the microbes that have been causing pain.
3. Icy Relief
Some ice-cubes sealed in a plastic bag and wrapped in a thin piece of cloth can numb the nerves in the irritated tooth when pressed against the cheek which is directly over the tooth. Ice is especially beneficial when the tooth ache is accompanied by swelling. The cooling effect of the ice numbs the region it is used on, and brings down swelling. Dr. Sood advises her clients to use a cold-compress or eat cold foods after a tooth-extraction to cool down the nerve endings and reduce pain.
Garlic is known for its antibiotic medicinal properties and can provide relief from the worst of toothaches. Some crushed garlic mixed with table salt or black pepper can be applied directly to the affected tooth, or some cloves of garlic can be chewed to release their oil on the 'alarm-site' to alleviate the pain. It is imperative to remember that the garlic clove must be crushed and not cut because only crushing garlic releases its oil.
If the toothache is caused by some tooth trauma - that is exposure of internal parts of a tooth due to the enamel wearing off, chipping or a large chunk of the tooth falling off or breaking - the home remedy must aim to first cover the exposed internal parts. Exposure of such sensitive parts to cold or hot beverages, foods or just cold air can lead to sensitivity and pain. A tooth paste specifically made for such problems can be used twice daily while brushing. Some toothpastes are also meant to be applied to the exposed parts for prolonged periods of time. These are very effective to reverse the issue of sensitivity. Some softened chewing gum can be used over a broken or chipped tooth that is vulnerable to sensitivity, to keep it covered and protected from pain stimuli till you see your doctor. This may also prove helpful with a loose-tooth, to hold it in place. Avoid chewing or biting down with the affected teeth. Always remember to brush twice daily and floss regularly. Also, sometimes a severe toothache may be due to the crowning of your wisdom tooth or some serious tooth and gum infections. In such cases, it is essential to visit the dentist at the earliest.