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Your tooth is throbbing, your head is pounding, and the oral surgeon can’t see you until this afternoon. You’ll need something to take the edge off until the good doctor can fit you in.
A toothache can be a sign of a larger problem, and if left untreated it can result in serious harm or death. Don’t take it lightly—if you’re in pain, see a dentist immediately.
Step 1: Brush and floss
When you eat, tiny particles of food can wedge between your teeth and gums. So even though that stuck piece of popcorn is teeny-weenier than a polka dot bikini, it can lead to a big ouch. Thorough brushing and flossing should help free any unwanted bits of food.
Step 2: Rinse
Gently swish a mouthful of cold water or briefly hold ice over the ache. Often, the chill helps to numb the area and provide some relief. But go easy—in some cases, cold can actually aggravate the ache!
If the cold isn’t cutting it, try a warm salt water solution instead. Dissolve several teaspoons of table salt in warm water, sip, swish, and spit.
If you’re pregnant, do not rinse with salt water.
Step 3: Squeeze the hoku point
If you’re not pregnant, try a little acupressure. Relax your hand, and use the thumb and forefinger of your other hand to palpate the area behind the webbing between your thumb and forefinger. You’re looking for a sensitive spot called the hoku point. Squeeze it for about 10 to 15 seconds, then release.
Step 4: Use an essential oil
Apply a few drops of oil of cloves (which is also called eugenol) to a sterile cotton ball, and nestle it against the source of pain. You can also try this technique with oil of oregano or peppermint oil.
Instead of essential oils, you can try an over-the-counter topical anesthetic.
Step 5: Hold a mouthful of booze
Here’s a great way to get rid of the last of the cheap stuff. Hold a moderate amount of vodka or whiskey in your mouth over the source of the ache. You can also try this technique with a teaspoon of vanilla extract, but it’s not nearly as much fun to swallow.
Step 6: Try garlic
Crush one clove of garlic with rock salt to make a paste, and apply it to the tooth. As a preventative, chew a clove of garlic every day for strong, healthy teeth. And if either of these work for you, make sure you invest in a strong breath freshener.
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