5 surprising ways to tackle the agony of toothache

A bad toothache can be unbearable, but thankfully there are some simple – if surprising - ways to ease that pain.

Whether it be a dull throb or the all-consuming, pounding agony that makes you want to claw your own face off…there’s nothing quite like a toothache.

Obviously, in the long term, you'll need to make a trip to the dentist - but in the very long minutes before your appointment, these toothache easing remedies might help a little.

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1. Cloves

“The active ingredient in cloves is eugenol,” explains dentist Dr Okoye, “which has a powerful anti-bacterial, anti-inflammatory power and can help alleviate toothache and pain – it’s what makes up that ‘dentist’ smell so many of us recognise.

“The best thing to do is place a whole clove in your mouth near the tooth that hurts and bite down and grind to release the oil in the clove. This produces a bitter taste and the urge is to spit it out but don’t - wait for four minutes then rinse. “You can also use or buy clove oil and you apply a few drops to a cotton ball and dab it directly to where the tooth hurts.”

2. Warm saltwater

It’s not just for sore throats, apparently. Rinsing you mouth with warm saltwater can help to relieve the pain of toothache. Place 1/2 tsp of salt in about 8oz of very warm (not hot) water. Swish around in your mouth.

The salt water ‘draws’ fluid from the tissues of the affected area and reduces pressure if you have an abscess. This is also good for any general mouth sores.

3. Garlic

Similar to cloves, garlic has compounds which naturally fight pain. “This one is allicin, in which is the active compound responsible for antibacterial properties," says Dr Okoye. "It’s released when garlic is chopped or crushed and acts against any microbial pathogens and can help stop infections.”

4. Guava leaves

You might not have heard of them, but you should have done. Available in Turkish grocery stores, it’s been suggested that guava leaves can inhibit specific bacteria found in the mouth (such as Staphylococcus aureus), and they have antimicrobial activity in general. They are used traditionally for tooth decay and gingivitis (inflammation of the gums) and can also help heal mouth ulcers and ease toothache.

Dr Okoye recommends the best way to use them is to chew the leaves until you feel the juice working, or to boil them and leave them in water then swirl the brew around your mouth.

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5. Painkillers

Many people think that crushing up a painkiller and placing it on the pain site is a sure-fire way to beat toothache – but only if you get the right painkiller.

Anti-inflammatory analgesics such as Ibuprofen are the best for toothache as the pain is usually caused by swelling. If you can’t take them – if you are allergic to aspirin, for example - then paracetamol is the next best thing. "But do not place an aspirin tablet on the tooth that is sore - it will make things worse as aspirin is an acid so will cause a ‘burn’ in your gum.”

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