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Can I Use Garlic To Kill My Tooth Nerve?

Updated: Dec 30, 2023

Garlic is NOT an analgesic so it can't kill a tooth nerve but it can be harmful if you use crushed garlic to alleviate a toothache. It may be a naturopathic home remedy for tooth pain relief but due to potential harm, we advised against using this.


Clove of garlic on cutting board with a tomato and a red onion

There are much safer alternatives to try which don't come with the risk of bodily harm. However, the safest and most effective way to get rid of tooth nerve pain is of course to see your dentist.


Without further ado, we will provide concrete proof as to why garlic can be harmful. Hopefully that'll convince you to put this home remedy in the useless discard pile so it never sees the day of light ever again.


Table of Contents:


Garlic is unsafe for toothaches

Garlic is a part of the allium family and is commonly found in most food dishes for its garlicky flavoring. Since it is a food, you may think it is harmless use in alleviating your aching tooth.


How to use garlic for tooth pain:

  1. Crush 1-2 cloves of garlic.

  2. Place the crushed garlic on the affected tooth.

  3. Leave it there for a couple of minutes until you feel better.


The above purported method may seem safe but what we think and know can be deceptive. It is actually DANGEROUS to leave crushed garlic in your mouth because you can cause a chemical burn.


  • A 49 year old man had tooth pain on an upper tooth.

  • He crushed raw garlic and placed in on the tooth.

  • End result was localized tissue necrosis with a garlic burn on the oral mucosa.


Essentially what happened was that the raw garlic was potent enough to cause a chemical burn through his cheeks. Who would've thought huh?


Ultimately the man who used garlic as a toothache home remedy ended up having more than one type of pain. His tooth was still hurting and now his cheeks were hurting from all of the tissue sloughing off due to the garlic burn.


Overdose side effects

A good rule of thumb to practice in life is to take everything in moderation. Yes, garlic may have many beneficial qualities when eaten in moderation but too much of a good thing can have adverse effects.


Ingesting too much garlic can lead to overdose and result in liver toxicity.

  • 0.1-0.25 g/kg body weight was safe and had normal liver functions.

  • However, 0.5 g/kg body weight showed morphological changes in the liver of the animal that they tested.


To put into perspective how much garlic that is, that would be a little more than an entire bulb of garlic.

  • The average weight of a single clove of garlic is 4-7 grams.

  • The average weight of an entire garlic bulb is about 40 grams.

  • The average weight of an adult male is 199.8 lbs or 90.7kg.

  • That equates to be about 45g of garlic which is more than one bulb.


Research shows that the recommended garlic dose per day is approximately 4g which is 1-2 cloves.


Side effects:

  • Garlic breath

  • Body odor

  • Gastrointestinal upset

  • Flatulence

  • Changes in intestinal flora

  • Allergic dermatitis

  • Burns

  • Blisters


Garlic for toothache while pregnant

Garlic should not be used for a toothache while pregnant since it is potentially harmful even if you weren't pregnant. The safety standards for pregnant women are much higher than non-baby carrying women.


Don't go attempting hazardous home remedies when you're carrying a baby. The best thing to do is to see a dentist if you're having an ache in your tooth.


 

Garlic is not an analgesic

Aside from the fact that crushed raw garlic can cause mouth burns, the worst part of it is that it's not even an analgesic. That means garlic does not have any numbing properties that can deaden your tooth nerve and provide toothache relief.


Nonetheless, for the sake of argument even if we pretended that garlic was an anesthetic and can kill your tooth nerve, it would still be ineffective. Garlic may be potent enough to cause an oral mucosa burn but it was not potent enough to burn a hole through your tooth to kill the nerve.


Look back at the case report above about the mouth burn. The crushed garlic burned the cheeks but not the tooth. Therefore, the enamel of the tooth is protective enough to resist a garlic burn. What that means for you is that the tooth enamel will protect the tooth nerve from being "killed" by the garlic.


tooth anatomy diagram
Credit: Mouthhealthy

What we're trying to say is that since this home remedy has no way of reaching your tooth's nerve. Ultimately it will not be able to exert its effect on the pulp.


Safer alternatives

If you're experiencing unbearable tooth pain, the best way to kill the nerve is by visiting your dentist. Since the pulp is insulated by the layers of dentin and enamel, it prevents home remedies from affecting it.


However, your dentist is able to bypass these barriers by drilling through the tooth to create a direct pathway to the nerve. After that, they can mechanically remove the nerve via root canal treatment and permanently kill it. In other words, that toothache won't ever come back.


What if I am unable to make it to the dentist

If you can't make it to the dentist or you're waiting for the appointment, the safest and most effective home remedy is Advil Dual Action. This pain medication has ibuprofen mixed with tylenol in the formulation.


advil dual action

Studies have shown that when these two painkillers are taken together, they exert a greater analgesic effect than if you only took one of them. The reason is because they inhibit pain via slightly different mechanisms.


acetaminophen with ibuprofen pain relief chart
Credit: Paul A. Moore, DMD, PhD, MPH; Hersh Elliot V., DMD, MS, PhD

Takeaway

Garlic may be safe to eat when used in food but it is unsafe to use for a toothache. Instead of killing the nerve of your tooth, it may cause a chemical garlic burn in your mouth.

Essentially you'll end up in greater pain than if you didn't use this home remedy!


Due to its potential for bodily harm, we recommend against using this home remedy for a toothache. If you want some pain relief, simply taking some pain medication will be a lot more effective. Although the best solution is to get treated by an emergency dentist.

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About the author: Dr David Chen, DDS

Hello, I'm Dr Chen and I'm an actively practicing dentist in Long Island City, NY. I graduated from Columbia University College of Dental Medicine in 2016 but prior to going to dental school I was already working in the dental field. It's been more than a decade since I first got to know dentistry and let me tell you, time flies by quickly. Since then I've developed a fondness for writing, which is how this all got started!

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Medical Disclaimer:

This blog is purely meant for information purposes and should not be used as medical advice. Each situation in your mouth is unique and complex. It is not possible to give advice nor diagnose any oral conditions based on text nor virtual consultations. The best thing to do is to go in person to see your dentist for an examination and consultation so that you can receive the best care possible.

The purpose of all of this oral health information is to encourage you to see your dentist and to inform you of what you may expect during your visit. Due to the unfortunate nature of dentistry, there isn't really any true home remedies that will get rid of dental problems. Roughly 99.99% of them require in-person intervention by a healthcare professional.

Hint: That is the reason why you can't eliminate seeing dentists in your life!

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