Toothache Remedies

Toothache remedies are only short term solutions until you can see the dentist. Never delay seeing a dental professional to obtain an accurate diagnosis and treatment options. Remember the pain can go and things can become much worse without you realising until it is too late.

  • Cavities: dip a cotton pellet into clove oil (from the local pharmacy) and place this in the cavity. This contains a dental analgesic called eugenol.
  • Sharp teeth where fillings have fallen out: buy a temporary filling from the local pharmacy. Before you place it in the tooth, make sure the tooth is cleaned then dried so the filling sticks to the tooth.
  • Gum pain can be helped with good brushing technique even if it is painful. If this does not work then consider some topical anaesthetic from the pharmacy. Rub this onto the dried gums with cotton wool.
  • Jaw pain: If the jaw joints hurt, place ice cold substances next to it. If the muscles hurt, place warm substances next to it. Obviously do not burn or freeze the skin.

Visit a dentist as soon as possible to investigate the cause of any problems you may be having. We welcome you to inform us of any other toothache remedies which have not been mentioned.

Preventing tooth pain

Brushing habits and diet habits are fundamental to preventing tooth pain and other forms of dental disease. These two factors are in the hands of the patient.

  1. Brushing habits: correct technique is paramount (circular motion aiming at the gums). Interdental cleaning to remove bacteria between the teeth is considerably overlooked. A dental professional should show you how to remove this bacteria effectively so you can implement the technique on a daily basis. Fluoride in toothpaste is now common standard-double check your toothpaste to ensure it contains fluoride (all the big brands will). Consider a daily fluoride rinse-no harm using extra fluoride exposure if you follow the instructions properly. Click here to learn more about tooth brushing or here to learn about interdental cleaning.
  2. Diet habits: brushing 15 minutes after all meals can remove substances which bacteria feed on that can prevent the formation of harmful acids that dissolve the tooth tissues. More info on diet advice can be found here.
  3. Regular Check-ups are essential to spot disease signs early on.

We strongly recommend taking a look at the dedicated children’s dentistry website to educate children on their oral health so they do not suffer from tooth pain

Causes of tooth pain

As mentioned in the first article in this series, causes of tooth pain can come from:

a) The tooth

b) The tooth surroundings (Gum and Bone)

c) The nerves supplying the teeth

d) The jaw joints otherwise known as the TMJ (Temporomandibular joint)

e) Other non-dental causes


Pain originating from the tooth

  • Mild pain: often lasts up to a few seconds and starts from cold or hot stimulation. Causes may include: small cavity, leaking filling, recently placed deep filling, root exposure from receded gums, clenching of the teeth and bruxism habits.
  • Moderate pain: often described as dental pain occurring on chewing foods, tapping the teeth and touching the tooth. If the pain becomes worse with hot substances then the pulp is injured. This injury can be the result of direct trauma to the tooth or infecting bacteria that have progressed into the tooth (this may or may not appear as a cavity)
  • Severe pain: is often experienced in individuals who neglect going to the dentist when small signs of tooth pain are experienced. There may only be two options to eliminate the pain: root canal therapy or tooth extraction (removing the tooth)

Pain related to the tooth surroundings

  • Periodontitis is the term given to irreversible damage to the bone surrounding the tooth. Neglected cleaning techniques have allowed for bacteria around the gums to cause this long term tissue damage. As the bone levels reduce over time, bacteria have more access to the tooth root and have the ability to infect it. The result may be a gum abscess or normal dental abscess.

Pain from the nerves supplying the teeth (Trigeminal Nerve)

  • A sharp, shooting pain lasting a few seconds triggered by shaving, touch or cold air are the signs of trigeminal neuralgia. The pain will disappear until triggered again.

Pain from the jaw joints (Temporomandibular joint)

  • The jaw joints are located in front of your ear. They can be felt on palpation whilst opening and closing your jaw. If you wake up with pain in the joints there is a sign of grinding/clenching at night time which can be caused by many factors including stress. During work, you may clench your teeth which can cause pain within the muscles that control your jaw movements.

Tooth pain from non-dental causes

  • Sometimes it is not possible to make a diagnosis of the experienced tooth pain. There may be an underlying medical condition and so visiting a health doctor is essential.

Visit a dentist as soon as possible to investigate the cause of any problems you may be having.

Introduction to Tooth Pain

Tooth pain is one of the most common dental problems. It can be prevented so we urge you to read the entire series of tooth pain articles on this site titled: Causes of tooth pain, Preventing tooth pain, Toothache remedies, Visiting the dentist.

Tooth pain is frequently a sharp or aching pain. The pain is commonly caused by the tooth nerves within the tooth roots being irritated by bacteria, damage to the tooth structure resulting in fracture, gum (periodontal), wisdom teeth and bone infections. It is often unknown by the public that several medical conditions can mimic tooth pain. These include ear infections, sinus infections, facial pain (trigeminal neuralgia) and jaw joint (TMJ pain). Symptoms of all those mentioned may manifest as headaches and nerve pain.

From the above the list is very long as to the causes of tooth pain. Always seek professional dental advice to manage your concerns.

So what causes tooth pain?

If you understand what a tooth is composed of and how it is adapted to its surroundings (bone and gum) it becomes evident how a tooth can become infected.

Divide the tooth into two bits, the bit you can see when you smile (crown) and the bottom of the tooth hidden under the gum (root). The root is surrounded by bone which keeps the tooth in its position.

The crown: is composed of an outer layer (enamel), middle sensitive layer (dentine) and inner very sensitive core (pulp). The pulp contains the nutrients of the tooth and nerve endings. Each tooth is essentially alive.

The root: is attached to the bone with a ligament known as the periodontal ligament.

Ok, so we know what a tooth consists of, so what causes tooth pain within the tooth? The inner pulp can become irritated and inflamed. There is no room for a swelling to develop within the tooth so extreme pressure develops  until a hole is made in the top of the tooth and the bacteria removed (root canal therapy).

Read the next articles titled ‘Causes of Tooth Pain’ to learn more.