When you are experiencing tooth pain from a cavity, you will do just about anything to get some relief. Regardless of whether the pain is dull, sharp, or throbbing, you are looking to decrease the level of discomfort. You may not be able to get in to see your dental professional right away due to scheduling conflicts. 

There home remedies and over-the-counter medications that can help prior to visiting your dentist that will help with relieving the pain. At Sninski & Schmitt Family Dentistry, we strive to not only provide the very best service possible but also to educate people about all things dental. In that effort, this article addresses some helpful tips for relieving tooth and cavity pain at home. 

What Is A Cavity?

Cavities are permanently damaged areas in the hard surface of your teeth that eventually develop into tiny openings or holes. Also called tooth decay, cavities are caused by a combination of factors such as bacteria in your mouth, sipping sugary drinks, and not cleaning your teeth well. If cavities aren’t treated, over time they get larger and affect deeper layers of your teeth, leading to severe toothaches, infections, and tooth loss. Read our article “A Few Signs You Might Have a Cavity” for more information about assessing whether you are experiencing pain from a cavity.

Pain from Cavities

Cavities expose sensitive dentine and nerve pulp in teeth, leading to an ache or pain that may come and go. Depending on the extent of a cavity and its location, the symptoms can vary. As the decay gets larger, you can experience symptoms such as:

  • Toothache, spontaneous pain or pain that occurs without any apparent cause
  • Tooth sensitivity
  • Holes or pits in your teeth that are visible
  • Dark staining on any surface of a tooth
  • Mild to sharp pain when eating or drinking anything sweet, hot, or cold
  • Pain when you bite down

Different Types of Toothaches

There are four main categories of toothaches.

Dull and Consistent Ache

A tooth that presents a dull and consistent ache, in other words it isn’t sharp or acute, is persistently annoying. Some common causes can include:

  • An abscessed tooth
  • Teeth grinding (bruxism)
  • Food stuck between teeth or in the gums

Sharp Pain

A tooth that is exhibiting sharp pain can be due to a loose crown or filling that is exposing sensitive and damaged parts of your teeth. Other common causes include:

  • Tooth fracture
  • Tooth decay
  • Cracked tooth enamel
  • Cavity

Sensitivity to Hot or Cold

If the pain began and persisted after drinking a cold or hot liquid, you may have worn enamel. You may be able to improve the sensitivity by avoiding food or drinks with extreme temperatures and using a toothpaste for sensitive teeth. However, if severe pain persists longer than 30 seconds, there may be a more serious problem including:

  • Tooth decay
  • Worn or loose filling
  • Loose crown
  • Fractured tooth
  • Exposed tooth roots
  • Gum disease

Throbbing Pain

Do not ignore a tooth that is throbbing. It is best to contact a dentist right away. If the issue is urgent, your dental professionals may be able to work you into their schedule that day. Otherwise, you may need to contact an emergency dentist.

Refer to our article “Dentists Recommend These Ideas to Prevent Cavities” to learn more about prevention.

Tooth Pain Remedies to Try At Home

Here are a few remedies to try at home for pain relief.

  • Rinse your mouth with a mixture of warm water, salt, and clove oil.
  • Rinse your mouth with a mixture of warm water and two teaspoons of salt.
  • Dilute hydrogen peroxide by using a 3-percent hydrogen peroxide with equal parts water and use as a mouthwash.
  • Add two or three drops of clove oil to a cotton swab, cotton ball, or a clean piece of tissue. Then, put the swab at the site of the cavity and leave it there until the pain lessens. If the clove oil feels too strong, use olive oil to dilute it a bit.
  • Make a cold compress to reduce swelling and inflammation by constricting the blood vessels. This also reduces the pain level. A towel wrapped around a bag of ice and held on the affected area for 20 minutes at a time can be effective. Repeat this every few hours.
  • Peppermint tea bags can be used to numb pain and soothe sensitive gums. Let a used tea bag cool down but still be a bit warm and then apply to the affected area. You may want to put the tea bag in the freezer for a brief time to chill it and then apply the bag to your tooth. You will only want to use this remedy if your tooth is not exhibiting sensitivity to cold.
  • Garlic has been used for thousands of years for medicinal purposes. To use garlic on a toothache, crush a garlic clove to create a paste and apply it to the affected area on the tooth. You may add a tiny bit of salt. Or you can slowly chew a clove of fresh garlic.
  • Vanilla extract is an antioxidant and also contains alcohol that helps numb pain. Simply put a small amount of vanilla extract onto your finger or a cotton ball and apply it to the affected area several times a day.

Contact Our Dental Practice at Sninski & Schmitt

Various symptoms can indicate that you have a tooth cavity. This problem causes significant pain and discomfort, and addressing it immediately will help save you pain, time, and money. If you see the signs of a cavity, be sure to call Sninski and Schmitt Family Dentistry. Our two convenient locations can help you. Call us at our Holly Springs dentist office at 919-600-6262 and our Cary, NC dentist office at 919-467-2203. Or, fill out our contact form to schedule an appointment.