The arrival of four wisdom teeth roughly between the ages of 17 and 21 may be an unpleasant experience for some of us. In the normal course, their emergence should only cause a mild sensation of uneasiness. But because all the other 28 teeth have already arrived, there’s some serious tussle for real estate. As a result, there may be insufficient space to accommodate these large “third molars.” In such cases, a wisdom tooth can erupt too close to another tooth or come out at an angle – dentists call this “impacting”. This may set off several undesirable developments that lead to moderate or severe pain.
A few reasons for the onset of pain are:
- Wrong positioning of wisdom teeth, allowing food particles to get trapped and attracts bacteria.
- Partial emergence of wisdom teeth also gives room for bacteria to get into gums and cause infection.
- Impacting can cause a cyst to grow near the wisdom tooth.12
Your best recourse is to see your dentist as soon as possible. In the interim, here are some simple home remedies for dealing with wisdom tooth pain:
1. Swish With A Salt Water Mouthwash
Scientific research validates what grandmothers have always known – that salt water helps to promote wound healing and soothes the gum.3 This simplest of all remedies should give you immediate relief for wisdom tooth pain and soreness.
How to use: Add a teaspoonful of salt to a glass of lukewarm water and swish it in the corner where your wisdom tooth is erupting. Repeat several times a day.4
2. Dab Some Essential Oils: Clove, Myrrh, Wintergreen, Peppermint
A tropical spice, clove is another traditional remedy for tooth-related pain. It has analgesic and anti-inflammatory properties thanks to an ingredient called eugenol.5
How to use: Put a few drops clove essential oil on a cotton ball and hold this to the affected area. This will quickly numb the pain and also soothe the inflamed gum. Alternatively, crush a clove bud and tuck this into the painful spot for 15–20 minutes.6
Essential oils of myrrh, wintergreen, or peppermint have similar pain-relieving properties and can be applied topically for quick relief.7
3. Rinse With An Antiseptic Turmeric Mouthwash
Turmeric is widely used in ayurveda for its healing, antiseptic, analgesic, and antibacterial properties. This wonder herb can help with wisdom tooth pain as well.
Here’s an ayurvedic mouthwash recipe: Boil a half teaspoon or 5 gm of turmeric powder, two cloves, and two dried leaves of guava in a cup of water. Cool and rinse the painful area in your mouth with this solution. You could also gently massage the aching gum with roasted, ground turmeric to relieve pain and swelling.8 9
4. Apply Soothing Spices And Herbs: Ginger, Cayenne Pepper, Goldenseal
Make a paste of either ground ginger or cayenne pepper – or both if you have them on hand – with a little water and dab this on the tooth with a cotton ball. These are heat-producing spices and the warmth they generate will counteract the deeper tooth pain.
A word of caution: Don’t apply the paste on your gums as it can irritate sensitive tissue. If the paste feels too hot, rinse out your mouth with water.10
How to use: Some herbalists recommend grinding equal parts of organically grown goldenseal, myrrh, and turmeric into a powder. To this, add a drop of clove oil and mix to make a paste. Apply topically for immediate relief.11
5. Call Chilled Vegetables To Your Rescue: Cucumber, Potato, Cabbage
When you don’t have some of these herbal remedies on hand, your vegetable basket can offer simple quick-fixes. Chill a cucumber thoroughly in your freezer (don’t freeze it, though), remove, and cut a slice small enough to fit over your tooth. You can also pulp some cucumber, chill it well, and apply over the tooth. The cold will give you immediate relief while the juice soothes the soreness around the tooth.
A similar effect can be obtained from a freezer-chilled potato. Slice off a small piece and tuck into your mouth over your aching tooth.12
Another age-old remedy: wrap some bruised chilled cabbage leaves in a gauze and apply to the tooth. This will soothe the area and reduce swelling and pain.13
Don’t Reach For That Shot Of Whisky For Tooth Pain
Dabbing a few drops of booze on your throbbing wisdom tooth sounds like a cool tip – and this home remedy has been around for ages and widely recommended! Alcohol may kill bacteria to some extent. But whether it works as a local anesthetic, numbing your nerve cells and preventing them from sending pain signals to the brain, is still hotly debated. There’s also another risk: using even tiny amounts of alcohol for pain relief of any kind can be habit-forming for some and is best avoided.14 15 We’ve given you enough effective and side-effect-free alternatives, haven’t we!
If a wisdom tooth is decaying and cannot be restored or if it’s damaging a neighboring tooth, your dentist may advise their removal. A painful wisdom tooth may also need to be extracted if there’s infection, a cyst, tumor, or gum disease and they don’t respond to medication. If you have healthy wisdom teeth, brush and floss them regularly. Regular dental check-ups are a good way to monitor their health, more so as you age and face potentially higher risks with your wisdom teeth.16
|↑1||Wisdom Teeth. American Dental Association.|
|↑2||Wisdom Tooth Removal. NHS.|
|↑3||Huynh, Nam Cong-Nhat, Vincent Everts, Chidchanok Leethanakul, Prasit Pavasant, and Ruchanee Salingcarnboriboon Ampornaramveth. “Rinsing with saline promotes human gingival fibroblast wound healing in vitro.” PloS one 11, no. 7 (2016): e0159843.|
|↑4||Wisdom Teeth. Oral Health Foundation.|
|↑5||Asl, Mina Kamkar, Ashraf Nazariborun, and Mahmoud Hosseini. “Analgesic effect of the aqueous and ethanolic extracts of clove.” Avicenna Journal of Phytomedicine 3, no. 2 (2013): 186.|
|↑6, ↑7, ↑9, ↑11||Alexander, Leslie M., Linda A. Straub-Bruce. Dental herbalism: Natural Therapies for the Mouth. Simon and Schuster, 30-Jun-2014.|
|↑8||Chaturvedi, T. P. “Uses of turmeric in dentistry: An update.” Indian Journal of Dental Research 20, no. 1 (2009): 107.|
|↑10, ↑13||Reader’s Digest Health Secrets: The Best Remedies from Around the World. Ed. by Reader’s Digest. Simon and Schuster, 2015.|
|↑12||How to Get Rid of Wisdom Tooth Pain: 24 Best Home Remedies. NLDA.|
|↑14||The Claim: A Shot of Whiskey Relieves A Toothache. New York Times.|
|↑15||Natural Remedies: Non-drug Remedies That Work Best. Rodale. 1999.|
|↑16||Wisdom Teeth. American Dental Association.|