Why does saltwater help a toothache? What about tea bags and thyme, are they equally effective? These are a couple of questions that often run through the minds of those with aching teeth. Well, the first thought is always to go for the string and the door slam, but it’s reserved for the worst case scenario.
Seriously though, toothaches should be addressed immediately regardless of the pain level as it may escalate into something more serious, something more painful. Most of the time, the go-to solution for a pesky toothache is by rinsing your mouth with salt water or some other form of herbal medicine.
Why Does Saltwater Help a Toothache?
So why does saltwater help a toothache, or rather, how does it help with a toothache? In the world of Organic Chemistry, bacteria thrive on slightly acidic to a highly acidic environment, which is not true all the time, but it applies to most situations. What saltwater does is that it brings the pH level of your mouth to a higher level, effectively making it more alkaline thus creating a hostile environment for bacteria to survive.
Saltwater is a natural cleanser; it can even be used to disinfect wounds and even jellyfish stings. The natural compounds forming saltwater is efficient in killing bacteria lingering around a wound, and the rinsing motion that you do with your mouth helps to remove other debris and loose particles of food stuck around your gums and between your teeth.
This first-aid solution not only disinfects your mouth, but it may also help reduce the inflammation of the gums around the tooth that is currently hurting and also heal any other wound that you may have inside your mouth. Make sure to use it for at least 24 hours, rinsing every couple of hours or so, even after you visit your dentist.
Ideally, the perfect saltwater mix involves half a teaspoon of salt, whatever you may have, and warm water. Some say Himalayan sea salts have the best effect, but most would say that as long as it is salt with high iodine content that you are mixing with warm water, then your saltwater rinse is good to go.
Other Toothache Remedies
Saltwater rinse is by far the most popular and most effective home remedy for toothaches, but it is not the only one. Several methods have been tested and are said to work well in helping relieve toothaches. These methods include:
- Cold Compress
Ice packs and ice chips act as a numbing agent that dulls the pain around the affected area; however, one drawback of using cold compress is that you have to apply pressure constantly, which can be tiring. Another drawback of using a cold compress is that it does not always work the first time. There are times that your face would be as numb as humanly possible yet the tooth would still hurt like the compress was never applied at all. This method is best used together with other home remedies for a toothache.
This spicy combination is said to work regardless if used separately or not. This home remedy is not for the faint of heart though as the resulting paste from mashing equal parts together does leave a burning sensation in your mouth. The active component of cayenne, capsaicin, is said to be a natural numbing agent and disinfectant.
Garlic has always been known for its strong flavor and pungent smell, but it has also been used throughout history as a medicinal herb, especially since it has viable antibacterial properties. You can mash a garlic clove into a paste and apply it directly to the affected area, or you can just chew on it to release the oils and essences.
- Peppermint Tea
Peppermint is said to have a natural numbing agent which can help with soothing an aching tooth. Mix about a teaspoon of dried peppermint tea leaves with one cup of boiling water and let it steep for about half an hour. Let it cool then use the resulting infusion as a rinse which you can either spit or swallow. Black tea is also said to work as well because it is said to have astringent tannins that are antibacterial.
Thyme is not something we always have enough of (pun intended), but it sure helps if there is some in the kitchen. This kitchen staple has antioxidant and antibacterial properties that, if harnessed correctly, can help remedy a toothache.
Thyme can help in two ways:
- As a rinse – mix a couple of drops of thyme essential oil with water and stir before rinsing your mouth with it.
- As a topical dab – using the same thyme essential oil, mix a few drops of oil with a few drops of water and use a cotton ball or swab to apply the mixture onto the affected area
- Clove Oil
Not everybody would have cloves lying around the house, much less clove oil but this particular herb is said to be a natural numbing agent because of its eugenol content. The application of this remedy should not be taken lightly as it can cause more pain if misused. Instead, use a cotton ball or swab to dab two drops of clove oil against the aching tooth until the pain subsides. Alternately, you can chew on a whole clove for about half an hour to release the oils, but this is a matter of taste.
- Hydrogen Peroxide
This compound is often used as a home remedy for wounds and bedsores; however, ingestion can be dangerous to your health which is why extra caution should be practiced when using this home remedy. Dilute 3% hydrogen peroxide with an equal amount of water and use it as a mouthwash. Thoroughly rinse and DO NOT swallow.
Wheatgrass has healing properties that can also help with a toothache by simply using wheatgrass juice as mouthwash to clean and disinfect your mouth. The high chlorophyll content of wheatgrass juice is also antibacterial and can help reduce inflammation.
An acupressure technique that is said to help with a toothache involves the release of endorphins which distracts your mind from the pain. Press an acupressure point on the back of one hand using the thumb of the other and apply pressure for about two to three minutes. This point is where the bases of the thumb and the index finger meet.
The Ultimate Solution
The effectivity of home remedies for toothaches is always a hit or miss, which means they may not always work as much as you would want them to. These methods are also used only for first aid purposes and should not be considered as the ultimate solution for your toothache.
Always consult with your dental practitioner once you feel your tooth aching and use home remedies when your dentist is not available or when you feel the sensation in the middle of the night. If the pain becomes unbearable, then try heading down to the nearest emergency room as this is often a sign of a more serious problem that home remedies cannot address.