By: Beth Walsh for Dental1
An old wives’ tale says that strong liquor – particularly whiskey – applied to the gums or even consumed directly relieves a toothache. The tale has been around since the Civil War era when whiskey often was used on the battlefield. But today, putting off dental care for such pain can cause more harm than good.
Alcohol has little ability to kill germs and virtually no value as an anesthetic. Any numbness it does provide really only delays medical treatment, which can make the underlying problem more serious.
In most instances, toothaches are caused by tooth or jaw problems, such as a dental cavity, a cracked tooth, an exposed tooth root, gum disease, disease of the jaw joint or spasms of the muscles used for chewing. A thorough oral examination is required to determine the cause of the toothache.
Tips to temporarily treat a toothache:
• Use over-the-counter pain medications such as acetaminophen or ibuprofen to treat a toothache until you can schedule a dental appointment.
• Avoid very cold or hot foods if you have a toothache. These can make the pain worse.
• Try using a cotton ball soaked in oil of cloves on the affected tooth.
Avoid severe dental problems by practicing good oral health:
• Maintain a healthy diet.
• Brush your teeth after eating with a soft toothbrush and fluoride toothpaste as recommended by the American Dental Association. Floss between teeth daily and brush your gums to encourage healthy gums.
• Have a professional dental cleaning every six months.
• Do not smoke – tobacco can worsen some dental conditions.