Tooth Ache Essay, Research Paper
I have been plagued by many a toothache in my time. Although there is no replacement for dental work and proper
dental hygiene, once you have a toothache, there are several herbal methods for treating it without pharmaceuticals.
Herbs for a toothache are best taken in tincture form, because the alcohol content is disinfecting and astringent,
which helps with the infection and to reduce inflammation. I suggest taking a teaspoon of the tincture (undiluted) and
holding it in your mouth, gently swishing it through the problematic area for as long as possible. After that, you can
swallow the tincture, or spit it out, depending on the tincture.
There are two strategies for dealing with the toothaches:
1. Removing the Infection Which Causes the Pain
2. Relieving the Pain
Removing the Infection and Inflammation Causing the Pain
This is the best strategy for a toothache. If you simply put out the fire within your tooth, then the pain will go away.
However, this will not cure your tooth problem. If you do not seek dental care, the infection WILL eventually return.
This sets you up for progressively advancing dental problems. Cavities need to be filled; rotten, dead teeth need to
If you do seek dental help and have an infection or abscess, the dentist will not work on you until the infection is
gone. She will prescribe an antibiotic to fight the infection, and when it subsides, will proceed with the dental work.
Sometimes the dentist is unavailable until Thursday, in which case you can get started on relieving the toothache
while you wait for an appointment. Some patients do not want to take pharmaceuticals for a variety of reasons, and
can use these herbs instead. The following herbs can be very helpful in addition to or instead of antibiotics.
A WORD OF CAUTION: An abscessed tooth, one where the swelling and inflammation is progressing from your
tooth to other parts of your face, is life- threatening. It is not a time for self treatment.
An astringent wash can be very helpful as a first defense in the early stages of a toothache. Astringents are antiseptic
and help shrink swollen tissue. Astringent washes can be used concurrently with antibiotics and can be of some help
in the maintenance of healthy gums. I use this type of mouthwash every once in a while, even when my teeth and
gums are healthy. Do not swallow an astringent mouthwash, as this can cause an upset stomach.
The standard herbal mouthwash astringent is Myrrh Gum. I personally do not use this herb, because of my
bioregional beliefs. There are so many astringents available that I recommend using the herb you feel best about. A
standard British mouthwash herb is Garden Sage. My personal favorite is White Sage, Salvia apiana. As an added
benefit, the bitter principles in the sage jump-starts my digestive system, helping me to want to eat breakfast.
Astringents will not remove the pain directly, but they will help dampen the fire within. Willow tincture may be the
astringent of choice for some toothaches, as it will act as an astringent and a topical analgesic to relieve pain. Try a
teaspoon as a wash, and then swallow the tincture for an added system-wide analgesic effect.
An herb with a strong antibacterial effect both topically and systemically is of great value for coping with the
infections involved with a toothache. My herbs of choice are the herbs that contain berberine, such as Goldenseal,
Hydrastis canadensis, Goldthread, Coptis spp., and Oregon Grape Root, Berberis spp. For ecological reasons, I always
use Oregon Grape. Three droppers to a teaspoon of tincture taken three to four times a day, held in the mouth for as
long as possible around the affected area and then swallowed for a system wide effect, is the best treatment for
toothaches that I know of. I generally would not mix berberine containing herbs with pharmaceutical antibiotics.
This reminds me of the time I was camping alone with my wife on a remote island off the coast of Patagonia. My tooth
started to ache, and the willow I tried didn’t help. Within a day, my tooth had abscessed, and the area below the tooth
on my neck began to swell. Certainly, I needed dental attention, however, Juan the Boatman wasn’t due back for
days yet. Luckily, I had my trusty Oregon Grape Root tincture on hand to help with this. Immediately, the Berberis
began to take effect, and within the first 24 hours the swelling had all but subsided, although the pain was still
intense. Unfortunately, at this point I had ran out of my tincture. I had given most of it to another traveler with an
infection before I had reached the island!
Fear not, brave readers, for I did not die that day, and still live to tell this tale. One of the reasons that I was on the
island was to research the strength of the island’s local Berberis. I had harvested some native Berberis roots earlier
that week and had immersed them in some sort of Chilean alcohol. Although I didn’t consider this a finished tincture,
it was all I had. Pouring some of the already golden yellow medicine off the top of the soaking herb, I began to drink
this elixir of virtue. Ultimately I was healed, and continued my botanizing under the Southern Cross.
Relieving the Pain
Pain relief is the band-aid treatment. To take analgesic herbs alone for a toothache is to invite disaster. If they work,
you won’t feel the fire, but the fire will continue to burn unnoticed in your jaw. This could lead to further bone
degradation, and life-threatening abscesses. An abscessed tooth is no joke; many folks died from this before the
advent of modern dentistry.
Available herbs include:
Salicylate herbs – Barks of White Willow, Oak, Poplar, etc. Tinctures of these herbs are also astringent, thus helping
to relieve the inflammation. Sometimes this is all you need to quell the fire of your toothache if it is just starting and
the inflammation is minimal.
Cow Parsnip Seed Tincture – 5 drops or so of this tincture can be very helpful for relieving the pain of some
toothaches, if the problem is near surface.
Clove Oil – Pure clove oil can help with toothache pain, but unlike the other herbs discussed, it can cause further
irritation of the gums with consistent use. I do not use oil of clove because, in the end, it can make matters worse.
Drop Dosage Herbs: If the salicylates and Cow Parsnip Seed fail, there are potentially toxic drop dosage herbs that
are helpful, starting with Bleeding Hearts, Dicentra formosa. These herbs can be deadly if not used properly. I do not
recommend them for self treatment unless you are an experienced herbalist. Most strong pain medication is
regulated by law for good reasons; the strong pain killing herbs are just as dangerous. On the stronger end of these
types of herbs is Opium Tincture. Although illegal in the USA, this would definitely take away the pain.