Updated: Sep 13
If you have a tooth infection, is it necessary to get antibiotics or could you get rid of it without any? Are there any home remedies or alternatives that can help get rid of it?
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Can you get rid of a tooth abscess without going to the dentist?
It is not possible to get rid of a tooth abscess without going to the dentist because home remedies are unable to eliminate the source of the tooth infection. The source of the mouth infections usually come from the nerve of the tooth or tooth decay, which only a dentist can get rid of.
If you're able to get rid of the source of the infection you may not even need antibiotics.
Home remedies for a tooth infection.
Home remedies may not be able to get rid of a tooth infection but it can at least temporarily offer pain relief from the tooth infection. Having options to alleviate tooth pain is especially important if you are not able to get an appointment with your dentist immediately. The home remedies can prevent the tooth infection from spreading further or at least slow down the infection.
Common home remedies for a tooth abscess
Salt water rinse. Salt has natural antiseptic properties and will also reduce inflammation. Rinsing with salt water will help reduce the amount of bacteria in your mouth and slow down the spread of infection.
How to create a salt water rinse - Put one teaspoon of salt in 8oz of water. Rinse with mixture for 1-2 minutes and then spit out.
Baking soda rinse. Baking soda has been proven to have antibacterial properties and will reduce the amount of cavity causing bacteria in your mouth. Using it as a toothpaste or as a rinse will help fight infections in the mouth.
How to make it - Add one teaspoon of baking soda into 8 oz of water. Rinse with mixture for 1-2 minutes and then rinse out.
Listerine mouthwash. Listerine is a very effective mouth rinse for killing bacteria and simply rinsing for even 30 seconds will reduce the amount of bacteria by up to 99.9%. It will certainly leave your mouth feeling fresh afterwards as well.
Hydrogen peroxide. Hydrogen peroxide has many benefits such as being an antiseptic, oral debriding agent, treats minor scrapes, and burns. Studies have shown that a 6% solution of hydrogen peroxide can reduce the amount of infection by half after 15 seconds.
How to use it - Mix 4 oz of water with 4 oz of hydrogen peroxide in a 1:1 ratio. Rinse with the solution for 15 seconds.
Cold compress. Using ice as a cold compress is a very effective way of reducing tooth pain and facial swelling. You can make your own or you can buy a premade one from the pharmacy.
How to use - Apply cold compress on the side of your face that is in pain for 15 minutes. You may repeat for 15 minutes on and 15 minutes off, alternating so that it does not get too intense.
Aloe vera gel. Aloe vera has shown antibacterial properties in disinfecting gutta percha cones, which is the filling material for sterile root canals. You can purchase it at your pharmacy and simply apply the gel to the offending tooth that is causing you pain.
Over the counter pain killers. If you are experiencing a toothache, pain killers will work wonderfully for alleviating pain from a tooth infection. Pain killers will offer the fastest pain relief for a tooth abscess. Either ibuprofen or acetaminophen will work in reducing tooth pain. Take the prescribed amount on the bottle as directed.
Natural antibiotics for a tooth infection.
Natural antibiotics can be found in nature and they have antibacterial properties when consumed. They don't require a prescription from a healthcare professional nor does it require a visit to the dentist. These natural remedies for a tooth infection can be easily purchased at your local markets.
Garlic. Fresh garlic extract is a powerful home remedy that will protect against infections including tooth infections. Studies have shown that it may even improve the effects of antibiotics on antibiotic resistant bacteria. The only caveat is that it must be fresh garlic so in order to use this natural antibiotic for an abscessed tooth, you must consume fresh garlic whole.
Oregano oil. This oil has shown that it has antibacterial and anti inflammatory effects. It is very easy to use in that you just put a few drops on a q-tip and apply it to the tooth that is in pain. Alternatively, you can mix a few drops in a cup of water and use it as a mouth rinse.
Clove oil. This oil has antiseptic properties and is commonly used in oral infections. It can even be used in fungal and yeast infections as well. Apply the oil to the infected area in your mouth for 2-3x a day.
Thyme oil. This will even work on antibiotic resistant strains of bacteria so certainly it will help in treating regular tooth infections.
Frankinsence oil. It has very strong anti inflammatory properties so if you have a tooth abscess, it can help reduce the amount of infection and slow it down so that you have time to make it to the dentist.
Fenugreek tea. You can also drink this tea since it is a powerful antioxidant. It is a natural home remedy for an infection in the mouth.
Coconut oil pulling. Oil pulling with coconuts is very helpful in keeping the bacterial load in check. The oil is at a neutral pH so it creates an environment where the bacteria is unable to work optimally and that helps to slow down the spread of infection.
How to use - Rinse with coconut oil and swish around for 15 minutes. You may repeat as many times as needed. The more times you do it, the better the effect will be.
How long can a tooth infection go untreated?
Since you can't get rid of a tooth infection without going to the dentist and home remedies can only help alleviate the pain, exactly how much time do you have before the tooth infection gets very bad? At most, a tooth infection can only go untreated for maybe 1-3 days.
The reason is because abscesses will cause facial swelling with each day that it goes untreated. After two to three days, the facial swelling will be incredibly painful and may need to be drained. So, at most you only have about 1-3 days for a tooth infection to be untreated.
Our dentists do not recommend to leave a tooth infection untreated for an extended period of time because the tooth abscess can cause severe facial swelling that may be life threatening. There is also the fact that it is extremely painful so why would you leave it swollen?
Stages of a tooth abscess
1. It starts off as an abscess in the bone of the tooth.
2. Then a small pimple forms on the gums, which we call a parulis or a gum boil.
3. If the pimple on the gums is left untreated, your face may start swelling.
Symptoms of a tooth abscess
The symptoms of a tooth abscess are easy to recognize because it will show up as a pimple on your gums or your face will swell up. Whether or not you can use a home remedy for the tooth infection will depend on which stage it is at.
The pimple on the gum stage of an abscess is still treatable by home remedies that can help with tooth pain relief. In fact, you can pop and drain the pimple yourself if it is not too painful to do so. It may offer temporary pain relief.
However, you will not be able to get rid of this gum infection without antibiotics completely but you can at least stop the toothache by draining the infection at home. It'll offer temporary but not permanent pain relief.
How to drain a gum boil:
Wash your hands with soap and water.
Apply some anbesol to numb the affected area.
Squeeze the gum boil with your fingers until it pops.
Keep squeezing until all of the pus comes out.
Rinse your mouth out with hydrogen peroxide.
Alternatively, you can also use a sharp needle to pop the gum boil but make sure you use rubbing alcohol on the needle to sterilize it before you use it. Once the abscess is popped, you should stop feeling pain.
Usually when an abscess is popped and it is self draining, it can potentially go untreated for a long period of time because it no longer causes pain. Despite it stop being painful, our LIC dentists do not recommend leaving it untreated because it can still potentially cause severe facial swelling. Only a root canal or an extraction will permanently fix the source of the tooth infection.
Facial swelling from a tooth infection
Swelling of the face may occur a few days after an untreated gum boil appears or it may take longer. It all depends on how well your body can naturally fight the infection and if you are using any home remedies to slow down the infection.
Treatment of facial swelling will require a visit to the dentist, which includes draining the abscess under local anesthesia and also taking prescribed antibiotics. There is no way to avoid antibiotics when your face swells up because home remedies are not potent enough to clear a tooth infection of that size.
Draining a tooth abscess of this size is usually a very painful procedure even with local anesthesia so our dentists in long island city do not recommend letting it get to this stage. Please see a dentist as soon as the gum boil stage of the abscess is reached!
You can't get rid of a tooth infection without antibiotics because home remedies do not get rid of the source of the infection but they may offer pain relief until you can make it to the dentist. In other words, it'll buy you some time and give you some leeway at least in terms of not feeling so much pain.
How long can you delay going to the dentist with an untreated dental infection will depend on the stage of the tooth abscess. You don't want to wait too long once it reaches the gum boil stage because the next stage is not pleasant.
Author: This article was written by Dr David Chen, a long island city dentist.