Updated: Nov 14
Using aspirin can effectively kill a tooth nerve temporarily but it depends on how you're using it to do so. If you use the wrong method, you can cause more harm than intended and end up with another problem in addition to your tooth nerve pain.
Table of Contents:
Can aspirin relieve a toothache?
Yes, aspirin can alleviate your tooth pain because it is a legitimate painkiller that is on par with the likes of ibuprofen and acetaminophen. Taking it will temporarily reduce the discomfort that you're having in your mouth for the stated duration of time.
Benefits of aspirin:
Anti-inflammatory. Decreases swelling, redness, and inflammation.
Analgesic. Can block pain signals, thus numb your body to pain.
Anti-pyretic. Reduces fevers.
The main characteristic of concern to us is the analgesia that it can provide because that is what deadens the toothache. If you wanted further evidence, just look at the product label from Bayer's.
According to Bayer, aspirin can be used for a toothache and research also supports that.
Mechanism of analgesia
Aspirin, like other NSAIDs (non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs) will inhibit the activity of cyclogenase (COX) enzymes. Ultimately, that prevents the formation of prostaglandins which are responsible for inflammation, swelling, pain and fever.
According to the Washington University of St Louise, the blocking of prostaglandin production is akin to an on-off switch for regulating pain in cells. That is essentially how aspirin can relieve mild aches and pain in your teeth as well as elsewhere in your body.
How long it lasts
The analgesia effect of aspirin will last approximately 4 hours if you take the standard dose of 2 tablets of 325mg. That means you can expect relief from your toothache for that amount of time.
If it didn't wear off after four hours, the instructions wouldn't have said to take it every 4 hours.
How to use aspirin to kill a tooth nerve
The best way to use aspirin to relieve your tooth pain is by swallowing it with a full glass of water. Essentially you're ingesting it for its systemic effect.
Instructions for Adults:
Take 1-2 tablets every 4 hours.
Or take 3 tablets every 6 hours.
Do not exceed 12 tablets in 24 hours.
Drink a full glass of water with each dose.
Instructions for Children:
For children over 12, follow adult instructions.
For children under 12, consult a doctor.
The pain relief is not instantaneous, it will require time before it takes effect.
The wrong way to use aspirin
The wrong way to use aspirin is by crushing it and placing it on the tooth directly. This is an attempt at trying to use the medication topically instead of systemically.
The consequence of placing aspirin on the tooth is the risk of an aspirin burn in the mouth. What it looks like is similar to a mouth burn. You can see tissue sloughing off as if it was injured from coming into contact with acid.
There has been many reports of this occurring with aspirin that has been intentionally or unintentionally left in the mouth.
A 55 year old african lady had a toothache and decided to place aspirin on the tooth but ended up with a painful chemical burn.
A 4 year old girl was using chewable aspirin but did not swallow it completely. It left burns in her mouth from the residual medication.
In both cases, the medication was used topically and it resulted in MORE pain rather than reduced pain. The additional pain resulted from the chemical burn of the oral mucosa from the aspirin.
Therefore due to its potential for self harm, we recommend against placing it directly on your tooth. It is safer to ingest it which will not cause chemical burns.
Alternative aspirin products
You can take pure aspirin pills but there are other pain medication products which can contain aspirin in them.
Examples of aspirin containing pain medication:
What makes these products different is that they come in a powdered form rather than pill form. They also tend to contain additional pain relievers, which actually makes them more effective at relieving toothaches.
Disadvantages of using aspirin for tooth pain
Despite its wonderful analgesic effects, there are 3 disadvantages to using it for a toothache.
Only temporarily relieves the tooth pain.
Increased risk of bleeding from extractions.
Contraindicated for those with GI bleeding issues.
Temporary pain relief
Taking it will temporarily alleviate mild tooth pain for approximately 4 hours. After that you will need to take another dose in order to continue its analgesic effect.
The reason the pain returns is because this medication does not treat the source of problem. Usually the source stems from tooth decay, infection, or some other type of insult to the tooth. Unless you address source, the pain will remain.
Increased risk of bleeding
Aspirin is a blood thinner, which means there is an increased risk of bleeding for all surgical procedures. This is important because if you decide to see a dentist after taking it and you need a tooth removed, you will have an increased bleeding risk.
Depending on your condition, you may need to wait until its blood thinning effect wears off before you proceed with the tooth extraction. Therefore if you anticipate the need for a surgical procedure you may want to use a different pain reliever.
GI bleeding problems
Aspirin inhibits the formation of prostaglandins which regulate pain but another effect is protecting the stomach mucosa from hydrochloric acid. You lose the stomach protective effect when you take this medication and that can result in stomach bleeding.
If you have medical conditions which put you at a higher risk for GI bleeding, this may not be the drug for you.
Permanent treatment still requires a dentist
The best that at home treatments (including aspirin) can do for your toothache is temporarily relieve it. If you want to permanently eliminate the tooth nerve you will need to see a dentist.
There are many ways for your dentist to treat the source of the problem.
Dental fillings - placing a composite restoration can repair and restore damaged tooth structure. This will address pain and discomfort coming from broken teeth or cavities.
Root canals - this endodontic procedure will physically remove the tooth nerve, thus permanently get rid of your pain.
Extractions - this dental procedure will remove the entire tooth from your mouth which contains the tooth nerve in it.
Yes, aspirin can kill a tooth nerve but only temporarily because its effects only last four hours at most. That is because it merely blocks the pain signals and does nothing to treat the source of the pain.
The only way to permanently free yourself of discomfort is by seeking professional help. Your dentist can treat the source of the pain to alleviate your toothache.