An abscess tooth occurs when a decayed tooth becomes infected, due to bacteria, and forms a pocket of pus.
This infection is usually in the root of the tooth, but can be in the gum surrounding the decayed tooth. If you have, or have ever had, an abscessed tooth, you know there is nothing more miserable. The pain can truly be unbearable at times.
Because a tooth abscess can spread into the jaw and other parts of the body and lead to very serious infections, they almost always require dental care. There are, however, home remedies to help relieve the pain of a tooth that has become abscessed until you can get into the dental office.
Symptoms of an Abscessed Tooth
Symptoms of a tooth that has become abscessed may include:
- Severe, throbbing toothache
- Pain when chewing
- Swelling in the face
- Foul taste in the mouth
- Bad breath
- Sensitivity to hot or cold food and beverages
- Swollen lymph glands in the neck
Abscessed Tooth Home Remedies
Until you can see your dentist, try the following home remedies to help lessen the pain of an abscessed tooth.
1. Gargle with warm salt water.
Salt has antibacterial properties and helps to kill bacteria in the mouth. Mix 2 teaspoons of table salt into a glass of warm water and gargle; repeat several times per day. The warmth of the water will also provide some pain relief to the affected area.
2. Take an over the counter pain reliever.
Aspirin, acetaminophen, or ibuprofen will provide at least some pain relief, reduce fever (if present), and relieve inflammation. Ibuprofen is the most effective for reducing swelling.
3. Apply oil of cloves.
Oil of cloves, available at most pharmacies, is applied directly to the tooth to numb the pain. Avoid applying to the gum, as it definitely burns! Oil of cloves liquid often comes with small cotton pellets. First, rinse your mouth thoroughly to remove any debris. Then apply the oil to the cotton pellet and place it over your tooth. If cotton pellets aren’t provided, apply the oil with a cotton swab to help guide it directly to the tooth and avoid getting on the gums.
4. Heat it up.
Place a heating pad over the area of your face where the pain is. The heat will relieve the pain and will also increase blood flow to the area, which helps to fight off the infection. Do this for 10 to 15 minutes at a time, several times during the day.
5. Use an ice pack.
If your face is swollen, you may want to use ice to reduce swelling before applying heat.
6. Keep your head elevated.
Keep your head up to relieve the pressure. Lying down will only make the pain worse and make it practically impossible to sleep. Try sleeping with several pillows under your head, or doze in your favorite recliner.
7. Use tea tree oil as a mouthwash.
Tea tree oil is a powerful antiseptic that fights bacteria. It can be found in most health food stores. Mix several drops in a cup of water and use as a mouth rinse several times per day.
8. Apply a black tea bag, wet or dry.
Place a regular black tea bag in the mouth, next to the abscessed tooth, to help draw out the infection and hopefully allow the abscess to drain. The tannin in black tea helps to reduce inflammation. To speed up the process, sprinkle some salt on the tea bag to help even more with drawing the infection out.
9. Rinse with hydrogen peroxide.
Rinse your mouth with a mixture of 3% hydrogen peroxide and water to kill germs; or apply 3% hydrogen peroxide to gauze or a cotton ball and place over the affected tooth. When rinsing with hydrogen peroxide, avoid swallowing.
Remember that while these abscessed tooth home remedies can relieve some of the pain and reduce swelling, they are not actual cures, so it’s important to see your dentist, who will most likely prescribe antibiotics.
An abscess in a tooth can spread to the jaw and other parts of the body and turn into a life-threatening condition. If your jaw becomes swollen and you are running a fever or if you have swollen lymph glands, see your dentist immediately. This is especially important if you have a weakened immune system. These symptoms often mean the infection has spread to other parts of the body.