If you’ve ever had a toothache, you know the pain can be unbearable. While you may want to check out the cause of your tooth pain with a dentist, you don’t need prescription pain medications to get relief from temporary or ongoing pain.
Essential oils can alleviate tooth and gum discomfort without the expense and side effects of pharmacy products, and they can even be used to soothe teething pain in babies.
Read on to learn some interesting facts about teeth and dental care and how you can make simple recipes at home to treat your tooth pain with common essential oils.
Table of Contents
- 9 Essential Oils to Treat Tooth and Gum Pain
- 5 DIY Essential Oil Recipes for Toothaches
- Closing Tips for Using Essential Oils to Treat Tooth Pain
Dental Health: What You Don’t Know CAN Hurt You
A toothache is defined as a pain in the tooth or jaw. While the crown of the tooth above the gum line is what you see when you look in the mirror, most tooth pain comes from the root of the tooth below the gums. The nerves there, often called the tooth “pulp,” can become inflamed or infected, resulting in the throbbing or sharp pain of a toothache.
Tooth pain can have many other symptoms associated with it that make it even worse:
- sensitivity to heat or cold
- pain radiating to the face, ears, and jaw
- bleeding and discharge
- bad taste in the mouth or bad breath
- swollen gums
- difficulty sleeping or discomfort when sleeping on one side
- By far the biggest cause of tooth pain is dental decay: cavities and other breakdown of the tooth reaching the nerve level. Other causes of toothaches include:
- extractions (pulled teeth)
- recent dental procedures or orthodonture
- gum disease
- abscess (infection)
- fractures, chips, bruising, and other trauma
- grinding or clenching the teeth
- infant teething
- TMJ (temporomandibular joint disorders) and similar referred pain (pain from elsewhere that feels like it is in the teeth)
Taking care of your teeth today is a breeze compared to days of yore. While the Ancient Romans had fairly advanced dental care, including fillings, during the Middle Ages, the art of sophisticated tooth care disappeared. Blacksmiths and barbers began to practice crude dentistry, particularly tooth pulling–often the only solution to dental problems.
Some lucky folks received dentures, like George Washington, however his weren’t the wooden teeth of legend but made of ivory, lead, gold and animal teeth (including prosthetics made from hippopotamus teeth!).
Early tooth brushes were made of twigs, which were generally ineffective at cleaning the teeth, although those made of natural cinnamon were surprisingly good at it. The first real tooth brush to resemble our modern brushes came from China centuries ago, but it took many more generations to develop a palatable toothpaste (a popular ingredient in centuries past was fireplace ash!). Current dental practices really only took off in the 20th Century when dentistry became a medical specialty involving special education and licensing.
More than $50 billion is spent in the United States every year on dental care, but nearly half of America has no dental insurance, which creates a high cost for emergency rooms and urgent care centers. More than 1.6 million school days are missed each year just from childhood dental problems.
Many toothaches could be prevented by eating a diet low in sugar and by regularly cleaning the teeth. Dentists recommend brushing for two to three minutes, instead of the average 40 seconds practiced by most Americans. Flossing the teeth is also vital to maintain gum health. Don’t cap your toothbrush after using it; instead, allow it to dry, which will keep many of the more than 300 different bacteria in the mouth at bay. This can minimize tooth pain caused by infections.
Just be glad you’re not an armadillo. They have 104 teeth. That would be some brushing and flossing job every day!
9 Essential Oils to Treat Tooth and Gum Pain
The following oils can be used effectively for your oral health, and are particularly suited for remedying tooth pains.
You can use oils individually, but due to the sensitivity of the mouth and the potency of some of these oils it’s best to dilute and combine oils into certain blends. You can find blends for tooth pains below later on in the post.
Tea tree essential oil is known for its antimicrobial properties, so it is perfect for tooth pain caused by infections. It can also protect your gums from further assault by bacteria. A nice benefit of tea tree essential oil is that it helps clean the teeth and improves their whiteness.
Lavender essential oil, that workhorse of the oil world, is also good for toothaches. It reduces swelling and inflammation and thereby relieves pain. Lavender is also relaxing, so if tooth pain is keeping you up at night, this essential oil should be in your recipes. As an antimicrobial, lavender essential oil fights germs, especially species of streptococcus that are common causes of tooth and gum infections.
Like clove essential oil, cinnamon is also a frequent ingredient in natural recipes for oral care. Cinnamon essential oil boosts circulation, bringing healing cells to damaged tissue. It fights bacteria and fungi, while freshening the breath, and it reduces pain too.
Clove essential oil is at the top of everyone’s list for soothing toothaches. Long used by dentists before many of today’s commercial pain medications were available, clove essential oil can reduce pain as an inflammatory. It also helps heal mouth ulcers (sores) and combats infections. This essential oil helps improve the breath too, which is why it is a common ingredient in natural mouth rinses and toothpastes. A little goes a long way with clove essential oil.
Frankincense essential oil has antiseptic properties, making it ideal for preventing infections of the mouth and combating tooth decay. Frankincense essential oil helps eliminate pain by reducing inflammation, and it can help relax tense muscles that are contributing to jaw pain.
As an astringent, myrrh essential oil is great for improving gum tissue. It heals mouth wounds quickly, which is helpful if you have tooth pain associated with deep canker sores or similar wounds. It offers relaxation as well as protection from germs as an antimicrobial and antifungal.
Bay essential oil was just made for neuralgia (nerve pain), so it’s a must for toothaches. If your tooth pain is caused by nerve problems, including pain brought on by laughing or chewing, you will get relief from bay essential oil. Additionally, bay essential oil has antiseptic and antibiotic properties, and as an analgesic it offers pain relief.
Ginger essential oil is an anti-inflammatory, so it reduces pain and swelling. With its antiseptic properties and fresh taste, ginger essential oil is perfect for mouth rinses and oral hygiene products. A nice benefit of ginger essential oil is that it can also help whiten the teeth.
Yet another tasty essential oil, fennel, with its licorice-y flavor is an all-around winner for oral care. It soothes mouth tissue, prevents ulcers, and speeds overall oral healing. As an antiseptic, fennel essential oil fights germs too.
5 DIY Essential Oil Recipes for Toothaches
Teething Salve for Babies (good for Adults too)
- Combine the ingredients above in a small cosmetic tub or recycled baby food jar.
- Dab on the gums before naps and bedtime or when infant teething pain flares.
- (Hint: this works for adults too!)
Severe Toothache Blend for Adults
- Mix the ingredients together in a small glass container.
- Use a cotton swab to apply to the tooth or gums to relieve pain.
- Try not to swallow immediately; the essential oils are safe to ingest, but you want them to be absorbed by the tooth or gums for maximum pain relief.
Tooth Pain Mouth Rinse
- Peel the ginger and slice into paper-thin slices.
- Add the ginger to the water and boil until the liquid is reduced by about half.
- Strain out the ginger from the water and discard, saving the water.
- Cool the water to room temperature and add the essential oils.
- Rinse the mouth with this mixture every 2 hours, holding it in the mouth as long as possible to relieve pain and inflammation.
Toothache External Hot Compress
- Combine the ingredients above in a small bowl.
- Dip cotton wool into the mixture, wring out any excess liquid, and apply to the jaw area or cheek to relieve vague or widespread toothache pain.
Natural Protective Toothpaste
- 10 drops frankincense EO
- 5 drops peppermint EO
- 4 teaspoons coconut oil
- ½ teaspoon stevia powder
- 3 teaspoons baking soda
- Melt the coconut oil until it is just soft.
- Add the other ingredients, mixing completely.
- Store in a sterilized airtight container and use as needed when brushing the teeth to clean and protect them while freshening the breath.
Closing Tips for Using Essential Oils to Treat Tooth Pain
Whenever using an essential oil for the first time, it’s best to do a patch test on a small area of skin before using it orally or on a large area of the body. This way, you can ensure you don’t have any sensitivity or allergy reactions to it.
Some essential oils are made for external use only. Never ingest oils that aren’t meant to be taken internally, and be careful not to swallow if you are rinsing the mouth with them.
Fortunately, many of the essential oils that are best for tooth pain also taste good and are fine for internal use. This means you can enjoy them in warm tea or hot water too, which will help with your toothache.
Another way to reap the benefits of the oils listed above is to add a drop or two to a damp cotton swab and dab them gently on the afflicted area. You can also use clove oil on a dry toothbrush and use it to lightly dab a tooth that’s bothering you.
Never replace medicine you have been given for your tooth pain by your dentist or doctor with essential oils without asking first. Always ask your healthcare provider about using essential oils if you have been given antibiotics for an oral infection, since there may be a reaction between the two.
If you are pregnant or nursing, or if you have a serious health condition, like diabetes, epilepsy, or cardiovascular disease, consult your physician before using essential oils. Most essential oils are safe, but a few are contraindicated for certain medical conditions.
Finally, don’t forget that you can use essential oils to treat other conditions related to toothaches. There are essential oils to lower fevers, help you sleep, ease muscle tension, and minimize bleeding from oral wounds. Essential oils are available for nearly every health condition, and you’ll want to keep a basic kit in your home for a variety of health needs.