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Does Baking Soda Paste Work For An Abscess Tooth?

Baking soda paste (sodium bicarbonate) can help with an abscessed tooth but it won't be able to permanently get rid of the infection nor the pain. In other words, proper care still involves seeing a dentist but at the same time it doesn't mean that you can't use it as pre-operative care for your infection.


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We will explain how to make this home remedy so that you can use it while you wait for your dentist appointment. However, most importantly we'll also talk about the best way to treat the abscess in your mouth and also alternatives.


Table of Contents:



How to make it

Making a baking soda paste for a tooth abscess only requires two ingredients, baking soda and water. Although you can add in some salt as the third ingredient but that step is optional.


Recipe for baking soda paste:

  1. Add 1 teaspoon of baking soda to a small plate or cup.

  2. Mix 1/2 teaspoon of water.

  3. You may add more water if it is too thick.

  4. Sprinkle some salt into it and mix one last time.



The recipe on how to make it doesn't have to be exact. You just want it to be paste-like enough but not so watery that it turns into a mouthwash.


How to use it

How to use it as a paste:

  1. Apply the baking soda paste all over the affected tooth.

  2. Rub some additional paste onto the gums, especially if a gum boil is present.

  3. Wait 5-10 minutes for this home remedy to work.

  4. Spit and rinse out.

  5. Repeat up to 5x per day.


How to use it as rinse:

  1. Add more water into the baking soda paste to turn it into a baking soda rinse.

  2. Swish vigorously around your mouth for 2 minutes.

  3. Spit out and don't eat for the next 30 minutes.

  4. Repeat up to 5x per day.


Does it help?

While the paste made from baking soda can help with your tooth abscess, it won't cure it. Nonetheless, there are some beneficial effects from using it while you await your dentist visit.


Benefits of a baking soda paste for abscesses:

  • Slow spread of infection. Sodium bicarbonate has a basic pH of 8.5 and is very effective at neutralizing acids. Bacteria happen to thrive in very low pH that are acidic so the baking soda creates an environment where they don't work very effectively. This in turns slows down the rate of infection spreading.

  • Washes away pus. Rinsing with baking soda will wash away pus and other bacterial byproducts. This can help freshen up your mouth so it doesn't stank. It eliminates malodor in the mouth very effectively.

  • Reduces bacterial load. Studies have shown that baking soda does have antibacterial properties which can reduce the amount of bacteria in your mouth.


Safe to use

Baking soda is very safe to use in the mouth and has been proven so by many research studies. That is why it is actually one of the base ingredients for the vast majority of toothpastes.


Yes, arm and hammer is the major one which everyone knows about but plenty of toothpastes have it as an ingredient but don't mention it. The safety of this ingredient coupled along with its ability to fight plaque makes it an ideal component for oral care products.


What it can't do

Unfortunately, baking soda paste is not a definitive treatment for a dental abscess but that's not unique to this home remedy. As a matter of fact, there isn't a single at home remedy which can permanently get rid of an abscess tooth because only your dentist can do it.


What baking soda won't do for your abscess:

  • Relieve pain. While it does have antibacterial properties, it is NOT an analgesic. Have you ever seen a baking soda painkiller? We haven't because it doesn't work.

  • Get rid of an abscess. It is unable to treat the source of the infection so the abscess will remain. The most that it can do is slow down the rate of the infection spreading.

  • Draw the pus out. If you were hoping that baking soda can drain your abscess, you're out of luck. The only way to do that is via mechanical means such as with an incision and drainage procedure.

  • Decrease swelling. It will not reduce the swelling in your mouth or face because it isn't potent enough. If you wanted to do that with medication the very least you need to take would be some type of penicillin like amoxicillin.


Unable to treat source of abscess

The primary reason why sodium bicarbonate is not the be all and end all for dental infections is because it can't treat the source of it. Typically the source of an abscess stems from within the tooth which is well protected by the jaw bone.


tooth abscess

Your home remedy paste is unable to penetrate through the tooth in order to reach the source of the abscess. Since it is unable to reach it, it won't be able to utilize its antibacterial properties at all.


abscessed tooth
abscessed tooth


Better alternative

The best thing to do if you have a tooth abscess is to see a dentist for permanent treatment. Depending on the severity of your infection, you may require a combination of treatments in order to fully treat it.


Treatments for tooth abscesses:

  • Incision and drainage. Any type of fluctuant swelling will need to be drained. That is the only reliable means of decreasing the swelling and returning the mouth to a normal size.

  • Tooth extraction. Severe infections may render a tooth unrestorable which means it will need to be removed from the mouth. This is the most extreme treatment option.

  • Root canal. Moderate infections where the abscessed tooth can still be saved can be done so via root canal therapy. Only the infected nerve is removed.

  • Antibiotics. A combination of taking antibiotic pills along with using an antibiotic rinse.


All of these above treatments can permanently get rid of the abscess in your mouth but they do require seeing a dentist.


Other home remedies

There is a whole slew of home remedies which are a part of the dental abscess self scare protocol. While they may not get rid of your abscess, they can at least help your condition and prevent it from getting worse.

  • Take acetaminophen and ibuprofen together for systemic pain relief.

  • Use a topical anesthetic for topical relief.

  • Rinse frequently with salt water or baking soda.

  • Use a cold compress.

  • Sleep with your head elevated.

  • Schedule a dentist appointment.


Verdict

Using baking soda for an abscessed tooth can help slow down the spread of infection but it will not eliminate it by any means. The only way to permanently get rid of the infection from your tooth is by seeing a 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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