Natural toothache remedies
Antibacterial - bactericidal - disinfectant herbs and plants for pain relief
Beyond (warm) salt water: other simple, natural herbal toothache medicines or home remedies such as tea tree oil, ginger, garlic, onion, oil of oregano, lavender oil, mint oil, camomile, and cloves. As with any page containing "herbal advice", the reader is reminded of Healing Teeth Naturally's introductory General advice and considerations re using herbal and similar nature-derived remedies to heal, treat or improve one's gums and teeth.
One can hardly think of a more inexpensive way to soothe and heal a raging tooth than salty water (which also seems to work well on tooth abscesses) - the only exception I can think of are the (ten or more minute) mouth rinses with one's one urine as recommended by Dr. Thakkar and others (see Urine therapy for the healing of teeth and gums). The widely recommended oil of clove and tea tree oil (placed directly onto the area affected by tooth decay) proved useless for me with serious toothaches (though I have never tried applying a fresh piece of clove which might possibly be more effective) but has greatly helped others. Conventional allopathical painkillers only helped me (but then powerfully so) when directly applied.
Additionally, salt and water are next to always immediately available (and as mentioned before, even sea salt by itself directly placed on the bad tooth or general area of great discomfort or pain works for me as well) while some of the herbal and other remedies listed in the following which I've seen variously recommended for aching/paining teeth may not be at hand or more difficult to procure, not to mention more pricey.
On the other hand, sometimes the addition of a herbal disinfectant may powerfully enhance the salt water action, or may prove beneficial when used interchangeably with it (see General advice for homemade toothache relief). Additionally, there are those rare cases which do not respond to salt water.
Some of the below suggested remedies are in the form of essential oils for which general advice can be found eg at Essential oils for oral care and healing of gums.
Tea tree essential oil is a potent antibacterial that is my second best choice as a tooth and gum pain remedy. It has worked extremely well for me with minor tooth and gum aches (applied straight, others use it by soaking a cotton ball). It has the additional advantage of being easily carried along in one’s pocket so it is always available in case of need. Apparently rinsing the mouth with water plus tea tree oil can provide quick relief to inflamed gums. Caveat: use organic tea tree oil whenever possible. According to my information, tea tree oil made from conventionally grown (non-organic) crops retains high levels of toxic pesticide residues. Tea tree oil is supposedly not safe to use internally (personally I have often swallowed some of it with no ill effects but I don't advise doing this). More on tea tree oil (melaleuca alternifolia) at Essential oils for oral care and healing of gums.
Following is a list of more herbal and plant-based toothache remedies others have found helpful & effective.
Cut a slice of raw fresh onion, place it in the general area of your mouth where it hurts or directly on the affected tooth/gum.
Apparently also works with the white part of green onions: "Bite down and suck out the juices. hurts but it works".
Another suggestion is to dice the onion, put it in a handkerchief, crush it and lay it on the cheek.
Comments I have seen: "... works almost immediately", "worked wonders! What 8 Advil and a bottle of Orajel couldn't touch, 1 slice of onion fixed almost instantly!" "...if you begin to feel a little pain again, just very slightly bite into the onion, just enough to let some juice escape. This works great for tooth aches that keep you awake at night or from doing work during the day." "(With tooth abcesses, covering it with a piece of onion) takes away pain and swelling..."
"A spoonful of fresh onion juice, made from spring onions, old white onions, or onion flowers, is beneficial. However, a mixture made from fresh onions and onion flowers has more medicinal value. The fresh onions and the extract from the flowers are rich in sulphur compounds which are bactericidal." Dip a cotton swab in the fresh juice and plug the sore tooth with it. While somewhat pungent and smelly, this will disinfect the inflamed tooth. Rinse with warm water.
Ginger (Zingiber officinale) root
Ginger root available at grocery stores reportedly works very effectively and can provide instant toothache relief. Cut/shave off a piece of the ginger root, remove the skin and apply the ginger piece directly to the painful tooth. Bite down on it if at all possible (reportedly the pain leaves immediately, such as with an abscessed tooth). Chew it slowly to swill its juice around the aching tooth. Keep the rest of the ginger root in a container in your refrigerator. Use as needed in case you may have to renew the ginger treatment with a fresh piece. See the following testimonial for someone who was finally relieved of her toothache by using fresh ginger.
A combination remedy suggests to powder green cardamom seeds, dried ginger and liquorice and apply the mix to the tooth that hurts.
Ginger finally relieved toothache:
three comments received by Healing Teeth Naturally
(1) I just wanted to let you know that in my fervent search in the wee hours to find SOMETHING to deal with the pain of this toothache (broken back tooth, no dentist on island 'til Friday) after trying Tylenol (which I never take, worked a while, then stopped), Orajel, which someone actually brought to me from some magic pocket (worked but made me sick to my stomach for some reason, then didn't really help), vodka (helps but there isn't that much vodka in the world), and salt water, peroxide, etc. that...the ginger WORKS! I just happened to have fresh ginger as I use it in a hot sauce I make and sell. And it really does the trick. I use the salt water first (which seems to make it hurt worse, actually, but I know it keeps things clean) then cut a tiny bit of ginger and bite - gingerly - down on it, and wa la bingo! ... I'm still pretty much in agony but I don't think I have to rip my jaw off now and the dentist gets here Friday!"
(2) "My filling came out and my tooth started to hurt today soooo bad and I tried the salt and warm water and it made the pain 10x worse. Then I found the suggestion with the ginger root and WOW! I love ginger root but the taste is horrible! I left it on the tooth for 10 min moving it around but I couldn't leave it in any longer and had to spit it out. But after a couple minutes I had no pain at all!"
(3) Organic ginger and licorice tea bag held against the gumline overnight helps with tooth pain: "I have been having some trouble with some of my very back teeth. They have been hurting and feel misshapen when I press against them with my tongue (I presume it is due to some sort of chipping or cavitation). Frequent baking soda/salt water rinses were helping to manage the pain (and also helped firm up my gumline so a slight tooth-wiggling issue I had vanished in under a week), along with dabbing some baking soda directly on the back teeth. However, the pain quickly returned between rinses, so a family member tried scraping them with a metal instrument. This exacerbated the pain, which became sharp and shot all the way down my neck and up to my cheekbone. It no longer responded to the baking soda. I then applied an organic ginger and licorice teabag which I rolled up and placed on the gumline, between the teeth and my cheek, pressing it as far back as I could so it reached the back tooth. This gradually reduced the pain so I was able to sleep, although by the time I woke up, its effectiveness had worn off."
Soften a (preferably green) cabbage leaf with a rolling pin, iron, bottle etc. and cut out the veins. Roll up and tuck between tooth and cheek. Cabbage leaves applied topically are powerful healers and detoxifiers.7
Pour a few drops directly on tooth or gum (a reader commented that "I have found that as an alternate pain killer Oil of Oregano works better than Tea Tree Oil for me" and "a garlic piece....works well with the oregano oil").
Various other comments: "... tastes bad and burns a little but has natural antibiotic properties." "...oregano oil diluted 10%, one drop where it hurts or one on each tooth. Taste bad but works like a charm". (Used for abscess:) "I swished 3-4 drops of Oil of Oregano in 1/4 cup of warm water in my mouth several times a day, was pain-free in a few days. In between I also dabbed a bit on my gum."
Note: oregano oil apparently is extremely toxic for some people while Dr. Cass Ingrams ascribes to wild oragano (in connection with a plant-based diet) the ability to cure cancer.
Blackcurrant (Ribes nigrum) leaf decoction
Boil 100 g (3.5 oz) of blackcurrant leaves in a liter (1.05 US quarts) of water, strain. Add a tablespoon each to a quarter liter (250 ml or 8.45 US fluid ounces) of water and use as a mouthwash for toothache (also effective as a remedy for a sore throat and hoarseness).
Sage (Salvia officinalis), salt, alcohol: a combination toothache remedy
This is a remedy against serious toothache suggested on a German page. It is also described as fighting inflammation and promoting healing. Considering that sage has some antibiotic properties (more on sage for gums and teeth here), that salt is THE toothache remedy and alcohol serves to numb, this may well be accurate.
"Take two teaspoonfuls of dried sage, crush them and put them into a shot glass (I am sure any small glass container will be fine). Add a level teaspoon of salt and fill up with approx. 40 proof alcohol such as vodka. Allow to infuse for 3-5 min until the mix has acquired a somewhat green/brownish shade. Take small amounts into your mouth and chew them, but DON'T SWALLOW (it works via the oral mucosa). Spit and take the next sip, until the pain subsides after several rounds. In most cases, the inflammation will subside as well and things will heal by themselves.
This mix loses its effectiveness after some 15 minutes so a fresh batch must be prepared as needed."8
Said to relieve toothache when applied externally.
Mint (Mentha) oil
Massage painful teeth with mint oil, said to have the approximately same effect as a dentist's local anaesthetic.
Compare Numbing the pain of a toothache.
Chop up some (if possible fresh) camomile and put it in a small packet surgical gauze. Moisten the packet with hot or cold water and apply to the painful area between jaw and cheek.
Turmeric (curcuma longa) aka haldi
You can also burn it, turn it into a fine powder & use as tooth powder.
The best toothache remedy reportedly would be fresh echinacea root (Echinacea tincture would be experimental).
Plantain (Plantago lanceolata and Plantago major) leaves
Crush/chew the fresh leaves and place on the aching tooth, mix with some salt as available. (Compare the salt water toothache remedy, my number one favourite for speed and inexpensiveness.)
Very interestingly, a scientific study (from 2015) conducted on narrowleaf plantain showed that it actually works against certain bacteria involved in tooth decay, see "Determination of the In Vitro and In Vivo Antimicrobial Activity on Salivary Streptococci and Lactobacilli and Chemical Characterisation of the Phenolic Content of a Plantago lanceolata Infusion" at www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/25767805 . A (hopefully forthcoming) future study may reveal similar effects exerted by the broadleaf plantain (Plantago major) as well.
Clove (Syzygium aromaticum) extract, pure food grade oil of cloves, fresh piece of clove, powdered cloves
Clove oil (which contains eugenol1) is supposed to have a bactericidal and analgesic effect for both toothache and gum infections (killing toothache pain temporarily). As mentioned elsewhere, I have tried non-organic clove oil for a very serious toothache without getting any relief, but I think that applying a fresh piece of clove might possibly work better. Equally, using organic oil of cloves (if available) may make a big difference. In any case, there are reports of instant or near-instant pain relief thanks to clove oil, clove powder or whole clove.
Suggested applications include chewing cloves (to release the juice and leave in place for 30 minutes), or applying straight/essential clove oil or clove oil mixed with olive oil or using cloves in powdered form:
"Place a whole clove between the aching tooth and your cheek. It can be held in place by holding your finger on the outside of the cheek. Chew the cloves a little to release their juice, then leave them in place for half an hour or so or until the pain subsides."
"Clean cavity out with a toothpick, then pack with some cotton soaked in clove oil/fill the tooth with clove powder."
Mix 2 to 3 drops of pure clove oil with 1/4 teaspoon olive oil. Saturate a sterile cotton ball with the mix and place beside the tooth/between tooth and cheek. "If the toothache involves a molar, you can bite down gently on the cotton ball to keep it in place. Leave it there for as long as possible (but don't go to sleep with it in your mouth.) Pain relief should begin quite rapidly."
"Make a strong concentrated decoction of very finely powdered cloves. Soak a cotton swab in the clove concentrate, put it on the aching tooth,and very gently bite down."
"Fry 2 to 3 crushed cloves in a spoonful of coconut oil2 but don't allow them to get burnt. Powder the fried cloves and apply them on the painful tooth."
"Alternatively, fry a teaspoon of cloves in sesame (or mustard or coconut) oil. Powder the cloves after removing them from the oil. Put on the hurting tooth (also beneficial for massaging the gums)."
"Put the clove powder in a teabag emptied of its content, then apply to tooth/gums."
"For healing a dental abscess, alternate between using a hydrogen peroxide solution and oil of cloves."
"Put some clove oil onto a gauze pad and apply to the painful spot."
Potential side effects of undiluted clove oil are said to include
- burning, tissue or nerve damage, pain inside the mouth, dermatitis, mucous membrane irritation
- swallowed in large doses, clove oil may cause vomiting, difficulty breathing, sore throat, kidney failure, seizure, or liver damage.
The following groups of persons apparently should avoid taking clove oil:
- Children, pregnant or nursing women, people with diabetes, kidney or liver disease or bleeding disorders.
Like cloves, the essential oil of cinnamon also contains eugenol1 and may thus help against toothache.
(Real) vanilla extract
Swish around mouth or pour a few drops of (real) vanilla extract3 on the paining tooth. More detailed suggested applications I found include: for less severe toothaches, drop some real vanilla extract on a cotton ball and place on the painful tooth to numb it. For extreme toothaches (which prevent you from sleeping, eating, drinking, etc.), swish around some real vanilla extract on the side of your mouth that hurts (apparently not good-tasting but able to completely numb the pain.
The alcohol content of vanilla extract may be partially responsible for the numbing effect. Also compare Numbing the pain of toothache.
A comment reads, "Using vanilla extract works fine for a toothache, but ... almond extract ... works even better, vanilla extract has 35% alcohol versus 37% for the almond extract, ... [the additional] 2% does make a difference."
Virgin coconut oil
Apart from other health benefits, coconut oil seems to strengthen teeth and to be good against toothache and dental infections.
Garlic of course is one of "nature’s most potent antibiotics".4
Suggested applications of garlic against toothache that I've found include:
- Place garlic clove on the tooth.
- Clove of garlic: crush & mix with peanut butter or salt, make a paste, apply to the tooth that hurts.
- Slice garlic, then cut cross sections into but not all the way through it to allow the juice to start oozing out, apply.
- Press the garlic through a garlic press, apply the "mush" between teeth, gum and cheek.
- Grate a clove of garlic, put the grated end (with the ragged edge) next to the gum.
Comments include that crushed garlic has provided "instant pain relief ... with the worst toothache I have ever had" and "Crushed fresh garlic clove worked wonders for me. 'Allicin' is the substance that garlic releases when crushed, and seems to have some pretty good effect on pain. But be very careful, it does burn..." Also "after 3 days [of using garlic powder and raw garlic], there's no more burning when I apply it, the tooth is no longer loose, and the gums are no longer inflamed." A negative experience I've seen reported mentioned worsening of toothache and newly created inflammation with "unbelievable pain". A general recommendation would be to use the garlic while standing close to a sink since its pungency will induce strong salivary flow.
Oil pulling is a simple DIY practice reputedly drawing toxins from your oral mucosa & destroying mouth germs while stimulating bodily eliminations and increasing metabolism, thus leading to various healing benefits and enhanced health (apparently even leading to whitening of teeth). As site visitor Andzej while fighting toothache from a tooth affected by deep caries wrote to me, "[After successfully using salt water,] I switched to oil pulling and had gotten more permanent results with that for my toothache as far as pain."
Swiss naturopath Dr. h.c. Alfred Vogel developed a product based on Petasites which he called Petaforce V. and which has strong analgesic properties. The book "Die Heilkunst von Morgen" [The Healing Arts of Tomorrow] reports the case of one Pastor Soeken who took six Petaforce capsules before having a tooth pulled without anesthesia. He notes that he didn't feel any pain at all. The site www.erapy.co.uk/information/conditions_painrelief.html writes that Petaforce is one of the fastest-acting pain killers around and that as a rule of thumb, its analgesic action can be expected within twenty to thirty minutes. (Butterbur is even endorsed by The American Academy of Neurology as well as the American Headache Society for the prevention of migraine headaches.)
Boil a small piece or half a teaspoon of asafoetida in a cup of water. Use the cooking water as a gargle 2-3 times daily. Remove the softened asafoetida piece and place it on the inflamed tooth. Keep as long as comfortably possible, then remove by rinsing your mouth with warm water.
Cayenne, valerian, wild lettuce
Mix equal parts of each of the above: this is "another Pain Formula for Toothache" owed to Dennis Knicely, D.D.5
Grapefruit seed extract
Eliminates bacteria associated with infections (according to D. Knicely).
Primrose (Oenothera biennis) oil
Also helps relieve toothache (according to D. Knicely). Evening primrose oil is rich in gamma-linolenic acid (GLA) which has anti-inflammatory properties.
Viktoras Kulvinskas in his "Survival Into The 21st Century" classic recommends using wheatgrass juice for toothaches and healing, which is certainly worth trying if you have it available (wheatgrass can be easily home-grown and reportedly works as a potent healer in the body, including for cancer).
Peppermint oil, dried peppermint leaves
High-grade peppermint oil among other medicinal effects also has antibacterial properties and can thus be helpful against toothache (and additionally may help to clear one's sinuses). (However, as with other strong-smelling essential oils, never use peppermint oil topically on young children close to the air passage and general lung area.)
Another suggestion for relieving toothache involves boiling 5 grams of peppermint and a pinch of salt in 1 cup of water and drinking it.
Place as close to the painful tooth as possible (or on the sore tooth) (possibly suck on it).
I have seen both cold and warm applications mentioned for help with toothache relief. "Doesn't taste good but it helps."
A tea bag tucked between affected tooth and gum apparently is a very effective remedy for a dental abcess (more at Abscess home remedies).
If you have it available, a eucalyptus or peppermint tea bag may be particularly effective.
Guava tree leaves
Boil 3-4 guava tree leaves in water, allow to cool down to body temperature. Fill your mouth with this decoction, waiting for a few seconds, then repeating. "...will relieve the toothache."
Calendula or myrrh (Commiphora)
Quote: "A combination of the following items used on a regular basis can be very helpful as part of a home remedy for toothache. First, a calendula toothpaste such as Weleda brand seems to be very preventive in nature. Calendula has a long history of being used for the gums and teeth. Myrrh toothpastes are another option (Tom’s of Maine makes one). Both of these herbs have astringent and antibacterial effects... available in all natural foods markets and in many supermarkets." More about myrrh and calendula at Gum home remedies and therapeutic mouthwashes.
Olive oil, cotton ball
An original toothache remedy found on the internet which "has worked for me countless times, even with an infected tooth. It also helps prevent ear infection."
"Put a very small amount [probably just enough to cover the bottom of the cup or just a little bit more] on 10 seconds or until it is slightly warm to the touch, get a spoon and have someone pour it in the ear on the side it is hurting, lay on your opposite side for about 30 seconds so it'll have time to drain down. Your toothache will hopefully be gone. ... Hope it works for you! P.S. Please do not try to put it in your ear yourself, you will end up with a very slimy bath."
Thyme (Thymus vulgaris) essential oil
Two drops in water as a mouthwash for toothache (apparently also helpful against sore throat). More about Oil of thyme under Essential oils for oral care and healing of gums.
Raw cold potato or cucumber
Take a cold potato or cucumber (from the refrigerator), peel the potato and cut a piece large enough to fit on the hurting tooth (also said to take the pain away from any part of the body).
Swedish bitters (herbal remedy)
Put 1 tablespoon in a bit of water and keep in your mouth for a while. If necessary, moisten the aching tooth with a cloth. Pain disappears/caries subsides. (from an old manuscript)6
White Willow (Salix alba)
Try taking some 6 capsules at a time, apparently relieves pain without upsetting the stomach.
Mango leaves & mango flowers
Suggested uses: (1) make a tooth powder from burnt mango leaves to relieve toothache. (2) make an astringent mouthwash from fresh mango flowers (brewing it like tea) to relieve pain and soothe inflammation (don't drink the tea).
Mulberry (Morus) leaves for toothache with pulpal infection
A site visitor suggested to add to the lukewarm salt water solution mulberry leaves "which is a.powerful infection-combatting plant" (I haven't found supporting evidence but it may nevertheless be worth a try particularly if you have them handy).
Goldenseal (Hydrastis canadensis) tincture
Apply drops (more about goldenseal at Abscess home remedies).
Papaya tree bark, banyan tree sap, cashew tree leaves
If you have it available,
- you may wish to apply the inner bark of a papaya tree to the area of concern, as apparently is the custom in Fiji to help with toothache and beginning cavities.
- Alternatively, apply the sap of the banyan tree stem to the gums or
- chew cashew leaves and allow their juice to remain in your mouth for two to three minutes. Follow by rinsing with water.
1 Eugenol, an antiseptic and anaesthetic compound, is extracted from clove essential oil, nutmeg essential oil, cinnamon essential oil, as well as others and used in numerous applications (cosmetics, dentistry, perfumes, flavourings etc.).
2 Coconut oil in itself seems to be good against toothache.
3 (from http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Vanilla_extract:) "Vanilla extract is a solution containing the flavor compound vanillin. Pure vanilla extract is made by extracting flavor from vanilla beans in an alcoholic solution. In order for a vanilla extract to be called pure, the US-American FDA requires that the solution contain a minimum of 35% alcohol and 13.35 ounces of vanilla bean per gallon. Double and triple strength vanilla extracts are available. Natural vanilla flavoring contains real vanilla bean but no actual alcohol. Imitation vanilla extract is usually made by soaking alcohol in wood, which contains vanillin."
4 Compare for instance On Garlic’s Health Benefits Against Cancer & Other Diseases: Incl. “Garlic Health Recipes)
5 These suggestions formerly appeared in his very interesting article on Healing Teeth Naturally (now published in a modified version at www.healingnews.com/Healing_Teeth_article101.html) listing various natural remedies for teeth. Re cayenne, compare On Health Benefits of Cayenne Pepper (incl. a caveat).
6 Background on this herbal remedy eg at Swedish Bitters Healing Testimonials: A Powerful Herbal Remedy?.
More on the amazing healing properties of cabbage leaf applications incl. the story of a woman who even treated cancerous tumors in this way.
8 Compare Sage as mouthwash for more ways of using salvia for healing.
9 Compare Turmeric for abcess pain and inflammation.