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Tooth Ache Relief: Medications and Alternatives

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Tooth aches are a common dental problem caused by various factors, such as tooth decay, gum disease, or even sinus infections. Going to a dentist and taking oral medications for tooth ache relief are the first line of treatment to alleviate discomfort. Medications may include over-the-counter pain relievers, antiseptics, and antibiotics. Non-medicinal remedies like cold compresses and garlic paste may also provide some relief. Others may use an electric stimulator machine to relieve pain temporarily.

Tooth pain occurs when the nerve in the root of a tooth or surrounding area becomes irritated or inflamed. Infection, decay, or tooth fracture are the common causes. In addition, the pain may sometimes come from other areas and go to the jaw. Hence, these can lead to discomfort and affect daily activities. This article will explore the pain relief treatment options for tooth pain, including medications and natural remedies.

Medications for Tooth Ache Relief

There are several medications for tooth ache relief, depending on the severity of the pain and the underlying cause. One common over-the-counter medication is acetaminophen. It is a mild pain reliever and can help reduce the discomfort and fever associated with toothache pain. Acetaminophen is generally safe for adults and children. However, always stay within the correct dosage on the packaging.

Another type of medication is nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), such as ibuprofen and aspirin. They work by inhibiting the production of certain enzymes that contribute to inflammation and swelling. It is more effective for more severe pain. Ibuprofen and aspirins are also available over the counter; however, it is best to avoid long-term consumption.

If the dental pain is caused by an infection, a dentist may prescribe antibiotics. They are medicines that help fight bacteria and prevent them from spreading. Some common antibiotics are amoxicillin, clindamycin, and metronidazole. Moreover, a dentist may prescribe a pain-relieving gel or ointment to reduce the discomfort until the infection is cleared. They act like a local anaesthetic that helps reduce the sensitivity to pain.

Potential Adverse Effects of Oral Medicines

  • The side effects of acetaminophen may include redness, itchiness or blistering skin.
  • Acetaminophen may also cause swelling of the face, throat, tongue, lips, and eyes
  • The side effects of NSAIDs may include indigestion, stomach upset, and ulcers.
  • Oral medicines may cause gastrointestinal issues, such as nausea, vomiting, and diarrhoea.
  • Long-term intake may cause liver and kidney damage or dysfunction.
  • Respiratory problems, including difficulty breathing or shortness of breath.
  • Musculoskeletal issues, such as muscle weakness or joint pain.
  • Hormonal imbalances, leading to changes in menstrual cycles or sexual dysfunction.
  • Blood disorders, such as decreased red or white blood cell counts.

Woman sitting with her hands on her forehead

Alternative Tooth Ache Relief Options

Natural remedies can provide temporary tooth ache relief until a person can see a dentist. One option is a saltwater rinse using warm water. Salt has natural antibacterial properties to prevent the spread of infection and soothe a sore tooth. Simply dissolve half a teaspoon of salt in eight ounces of warm water and swish it around the mouth for about 30 seconds before spitting it out.

Other homemade remedies are clove oil, fresh garlic cloves, and cold compresses. Clove oil has antiseptic properties that help reduce pain and inflammation. In addition, take a couple of garlic cloves and mash them into a paste. Apply the paste to the aching tooth to reduce swelling. Meanwhile, an ice pack can help numb the area and dull the pain.

Furthermore, peppermint tea can be a toothache treatment as well. Peppermint is a natural antiseptic and anaesthetic. Boil one cup of water, steep a peppermint tea bag in it for 5 minutes, and drink once cooled. Lastly, thyme has antioxidant and anti-bacterial properties. Add a few drops of thyme essential oil to a glass of water and use it as a mouthwash.

When to Seek Medical Help

It is important to note that home remedies for tooth pain are only temporary solutions. If unbearable tooth pain persists, go to a dental clinic promptly. Generally, seek dental care if the pain lasts for more than one or two days. This could indicate an underlying condition, such as bacterial infections or gum disease.

Moreover, abscessed teeth warrant a dental emergency. It is a severe infection around the root of a tooth caused by harmful bacteria. Other dental issues include fractures and loose crowns. Therefore, it is best to consult a dentist for proper diagnosis and treatment of the underlying cause.

Small TENS machine for small areas

Is it Possible to Use TENS as a Tooth Ache Relief?

A pain management method that is popular among individuals with chronic pain is Transcutaneous Electrical Nerve Stimulation (TENS). It is a non-invasive treatment that uses mild electrical currents through a portable device. TENS can be used for tooth ache relief with dental advice and guidance from a professional. If other remedies do not work, TENS can be an ideal alternative.

The device works by emitting low-voltage electrical impulses through electrode pads placed on the skin. It helps relieve pain by blocking the transmission of pain signals to the brain and releasing endorphins. In addition, it helps ease soreness and swelling. It is vital to follow the instructions of a dentist for safe and effective treatment.

To use a TENS machine, place the electrode pads based on the direction of a professional. Turn on the device and start at the lowest intensity level. Slowly increase the settings until the pulses are firm but comfortable. It is crucial not to turn the stimulation too high to avoid discomfort to the sensitive structures in the head or face.

Benefits of TENS

TENS therapy is a comprehensive and versatile pain management solution with notable benefits. It is non-invasive, drug-free, and easy to use. It is often used for chronic pain as it does not have long-term side effects. Aside from tooth pain relief, TENS can be used for TMJ (temporomandibular joints), migrainesneck pain, and shoulder pain.

Furthermore, the home-use TENS devices are portable and battery-powered. It can be used anywhere, anytime, with discretion. Moreover, it helps improve the quality of life for people with various medical conditions. A proper dental treatment plan can provide effective temporary relief.


Painful teeth are a common problem that can cause immense discomfort. It can happen due to various causes, such as injury, gum infection, and tooth decay. If left untreated, it can lead to more serious complications that affect overall health. Therefore, looking for tooth ache relief is a priority. Many people take medications like acetaminophen, NSAIDs, and antibiotics to alleviate pain or reduce inflammation. Several home remedies can also help, such as saltwater rinse, clove oil, cold compress, and peppermint.

Individuals who need more robust pain relief may use a TENS machine. It is a portable device that uses mild electrical pulses for toothache relief. Nevertheless, it is crucial to follow the safety precautions when using TENS. A dentist or health professional can guide patients on how to use the device properly. Knowing the various treatment options can help find effective toothache remedies that fit individual needs.

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