Many people are unfortunate enough to experience a toothache.  This condition can make life miserable.  However, it usually indicates something is very wrong in a person's mouth and the first thing that should be done is to make a visit to a dentist.


The most common causes of a toothache include dental decay, an abscess, inflammation of the pulp in the tooth, a damaged tooth or an exposed tooth root or irritation following a dental examination or treatment.  Other triggers for a toothache can be an ulceration or inflammation of the gum caused by conditions such as periodontitis, gingivitis and sinusitis.

Making sure the teeth and gums are healthy are the best ways to prevent toothache.  This can be accomplished by reducing the intake of sugary foods and drinks, brushing the teeth regularly, using a toothpaste containing fluoride, and flossing often.

Another must: visit a dentist regularly so any problems that may be in the developing stage can be detected early.

Symptoms of Toothache

Some of the symptoms of this condition can include:

  • Intermittent or continuous throbbing pain

  • Raised temperature

  • Pain located above and below gum level

  • Chewing that causes pain

  • Gums which are swollen

  • Earache or swelling on one side of the face

  • Neck swelling

  • Facial pain

  • Sinusitis

  • Difficulty with eating

Treatment Goal

The goal for treating toothache is to alleviate the pain and identify the cause in order to prevent future problems from developing.  However, most incidents of toothache do require the attention of a dentist.

Conventional Medicine

Toothache is simply a symptom of another condition.  In the interim, a person suffering from toothache can take pain relief (such as 800 mg of ibuprofen three times per day) as needed for a short period of time.

To prevent toothache, a rigorous oral hygiene routine is necessary.  This should include flossing, proper brushing, and avoiding processed foods and sugar.  Good oral flora can be maintained by consuming probiotics.  A product with colony-forming units of bifidus in the billions should be chosen. 

People should also receive adequate amounts of vitamin C (about 500 mg a day) and CoQ10 (120 mg of an oil-based product every day) to maintain gum health.  The teeth can be kept in good condition through regular dental examinations, especially during high-risk times in a person's life, such as childhood and in middle age.

A dentist should be contacted as soon as a toothache develops.  Tooth decay is the most common cause of toothache, which can lead to a bacterial infection of the tooth pulp if this initial problem is not addressed correctly. 

Other frequent causes include a fracture or crack in the tooth, gum disease, grinding the teeth or gum chewing, or a damaged filling. 

Natural and Alternative Treatments

Using Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) remedies can help reduce the pain and inflammation which accompany toothache, treat the cause and aid in prevention of additional or future problems with the teeth.  Several treatments exist using natural and alternative remedies.  These include:

  • Clove oil - Making a compress of clove oil.  This oil contains eugenol, a natural painkiller and antibacterial.  Two or three drops of pure clove oil can be mixed with 1/4 tsp of olive oil.  Apply the mixture with a cotton ball two to three times a day. A cotton ball can also be saturated and placed next to the tooth inside the mouth.

  • Belladonna - This treatment is most effective when taken at the first sign of discomfort.  This remedy can be used to treat pain that appears suddenly and dramatically.

  • Hepar sulph - This remedy can be used if the toothache is combined with excruciating sensitivity to cold air.  This type of pain is usually sharp and associated with the formation of an abscess.

  • Herbal teas - A tea can be made by using 12 g of Bai Zhi and 10 g of WuZhu Yu in a teapot and add 3 to 4 cups of boiling water.  Use the tea to cleanse the mouth.  Drink the tea throughout the day, swishing it around in the mouth.  The herbs will cleanse the bacteria in the mouth.

  • Ya Tong Shan (toothache powder) or watermelon frost - These two formulas are powder forms of herbal mixtures.  The powder can be applied three to four times a day to the area in the mouth causing the pain.  If the pain does not lessen in two or three days, see a dentist.

  • Acupressure - Press the Hegu points, located on the back of the hands between the thumb and the first finger.  The Jie Che point, located on the cheek in the depression above the jawbone, can be pressed (strong pressure for one minute) two to three times per day.

  • Acupuncture - A professional acupuncturist is able to treat toothache from two different perspectives.  The first will reduce the pain by using local points and points that control pain.  Secondly, the issue of the underlying problem must be diagnosed.  Treatments can vary due to acute or chronic stages of the condition.

  • Arnica - After dental work has been done, this herb,which reduces pain and swelling, can be used to ease the areas which have been traumatized.  However, arnica should not be used after a wisdom tooth has been extracted.



  1. Bratman, S. The Alternative Medicine Ratings Guide: an expert panel rates the best treatments for over 80 conditions, Prima Health A Division of Prima Publishing (1998)
  2. Brown, L. Alternative Medicine, NTC/Contemporary Publishing (1999)
  3. Deepak Chopra, M.D. Alternative Medicine: The Definitive Guide, Celestial Arts (2002)
  4. Servan-Schreiber, D. The Encyclopedia of New Medicine: Conventional & Alternative Medicine For All Ages, Rodale International Limited (2006)
  5. Senzon, S. (2003). Reversing gum disease naturally : a holistic home care program. Hoboken, New Jersey : John Wiley & Sons

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