How To Relieve Pain From a Cracked or Broken Tooth

Do-It-Yourself Toothache Remedies

woman with tooth ache
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A broken or cracked tooth may cause a very painful toothache.

If the broken tooth is exposed down to the dental pulp, then pain can be experienced. 

The dental pulp is the living tissue within the root canal(s) of teeth. It contains blood vessels, nerve and connective tissues. Not only do the injuries and their treatment vary, but they are also influenced by the type of tooth, whether primary or baby teeth or adult teeth, as well as their stage of growth and development.

When a dental pulp is injured or exposed it can become inflamed a chronically infected.

Treatment of dental pulp (nerve) injuries is called root canal or endodontic treatment. It needs to be performed because the dental pulp will come inflamed or infected. 

The pulp extends from the crown of the tooth to the tip of the roots where it connects to the tissues surrounding the root. Although the pulp is important during a tooth's growth and development, once it is fully mature the tooth can survive without the pulp.

If you have a broken or cracked tooth and you are unable to see your dentist immediately, here are some ways for you to relieve the pain from a toothache caused by a broken or cracked tooth on your own: 

  • Avoid foods and beverages that are very cold or very hot: Since the dentin layer of the tooth has likely been exposed by the crack or break in the tooth, extremes in temperature may cause pain.
  • Avoid foods and beverages that are very high in sugar, or are very acidic: Such food and beverage may work to both the tooth. 
  • Use an over-the-counter pain relief medicine: Never exceed the recommended dose, and check to make sure you are able to take pain relief medications with any of the other medications you may currently be on. Generally speaking, a pain relief medication that is intended to reduced inflammation works best for dental pain, because most toothaches are caused by an inflammation of the tissues or the inflammation of the nerve. Never put pain relief medication on the tooth or gum tissue, as this could burn the tissue.
  • Floss between the teeth that are cracked or broken: Removing the food particles and ​plaque may help reduce the pain from the toothache.
  • Use oil of cloves (eugenol): Eugenol, which can be found in most health food stores, is used in various dental materials because of its anesthetic properties. Using eugenol at home may help reduce pain from a toothache. Soak a small piece of cotton in the oil, then blot the cotton on a piece of tissue to remove the excess. Using a clean pair of tweezers, hold the cotton on the painful tooth for 10 seconds, making sure you do not swallow any of the oil.
  • Seal the crack or the hole in the tooth temporarily: Some pharmacies have over-the counter temporary filling material that may be used to seal the hole created by a break in the tooth, or seal a cracked tooth temporarily.
  • Sleep with your head elevated: The inflammation of the nerve of the tooth with a crack or break is very painful, and is often what causes the most uncomfortable pain. If you elevate your head when resting, some of the pressure in the area of the toothache may diminish.
  • Rinse with warm salt water: Rinsing with warm salt water two to three times a day may help to relieve a toothache caused by a crack or break. Salt water works as an antiseptic to remove bacteria from the infected area.

    A toothache that is caused by a crack or break in the tooth may come and go, but don't be fooled. The longer you wait to have the tooth restored, the more serious complications may arise. As soon as you develop a toothache, see your dentist immediately.

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