Tempted to yank out that troublesome tooth? Try these less extreme solutions first writes Nel Staveley …
Anyone who’s ever had toothache will know how horrendous it can be. The all-consuming, throbbing, pounding agony that makes you want to claw your own face off. Obviously, any new or bad toothache should be checked out by your dentist.
That must be your first port of call for toothache,” stresses Dr Uchenna Okoye, celebrity cosmetic dentist at London Smiling (www.londonsmiling.com). “On the day and out of hours, there is always an emergency number to call. Your dentist should offer the same.”
But, while waiting for your appointment, or between treatments, is there anything else you can do to ease the agony? These gnasher-soothing remedies might be worth checking out …
“The active ingredient in cloves is eugenol,” explains Dr Okoye, “which has an 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 buy clove oil and apply a few drops to a cotton ball and dab it directly to where the tooth hurts.”
It’s not just for sore throats, apparently. “Rinsing you mouth with warm saltwater can help to relieve the pain of toothache. Place half a teaspoon of salt in about eight ounces 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. Also good for any general mouth sores.”
Similar to cloves, garlic has compounds which naturally fight pain. “This one is allicin, which is the active compound responsible for antibacterial properties. It’s released when garlic is chopped or crushed and acts against any microbial pathogens, and can help stop infections.”
You might not have heard of them, but guava leaves are worth knowing about. “Available in Turkish grocery stores, it’s been suggested they can inhibit specific bacteria found in the mouth like Staphylococcus aureus, and have antimicrobial activity in general. It is used traditionally for tooth decay and gingivitis inflammation of the gums, and it can also help heal mouth ulcers and ease toothache.” Dr Okoye recommends the best way to use them is chewing the leaves until you feel the juice working, or boiling them and leaving them in water.
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 – for instance, if you’re allergic to aspirin – 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.”