Updated: May 19
Are you experiencing some tooth pain and looking for an antiseptic rinse that can alleviate the pain? Will hydrogen peroxide work? You definitely do have a bottle of this sitting in your medicine cabinet. It sure would be convenient if you're able to use it.
Our purpose here is to explain to you what hydrogen peroxide can and cannot do. What it is good at and what it is not. You may be surprised by the answer that we have to give.
Table of Contents:
How to use hydrogen peroxide for a toothache.
It is very easy to make a hydrogen peroxide rinse for tooth pain because you only need three ingredients. They can all be purchased at your local pharmacy or supermarket.
Fill up half a cup with 4 oz of room temperature water.
Add 4 oz of hydrogen peroxide in a 1:1 ratio.
Lightly stir the mixture.
Gargle and swish with the rinse for 30-60 seconds.
DO NOT SWALLOW IT. Spit it out and rinse with water.
Repeat for up to three times a day as needed.
It is not recommended to rinse it at full strength because it is very concentrated and the acidity may burn. The instructions specifically say to dilute it for use as a mouthwash. That is for your own safety so you should abide by the instructions.
Can hydrogen peroxide help with tooth pain?
Hydrogen peroxide can help alleviate a toothache because it is an antiseptic. It has bacteriostatic and bactericidal properties according to this study. A 6% solution was able to kill half of the bacterial specimen within 15 seconds of rinsing.
The concentrations available for purchase from your pharmacies are at typically at 3%. There are higher concentration ones but you will need to contact a medical supplier in order to procure that. However, you may need a medical license or an equivalent in order to buy that. There are safety measures and regulations in place restricting the higher concentration products.
The effects of hydrogen peroxide as listed on the product label:
Oral debriding agent
Treats minor cuts and abrasions
When using peroxide is helpful
Since the peroxide does have the ability to kill bacteria and can be used as an oral debriding agent, in which situations would it help with tooth pain?
Pain from bleeding gums. If your gums are bleeding due to gingivitis or periodontitis, rinsing with hydrogen peroxide will help alleviate pain by reducing the bacterial load present in the mouth. Please be aware that this will only temporarily help with the toothache because gum disease needs to be permanently treated by a dentist. The cure would be either a teeth cleaning or a deep cleaning.
Mild gum infection or abscess. If you're experiencing some gum swelling from a mild infection or a small abscess, the rinse can fight some of the bacteria. Rinsing with it will definitely prevent the swelling from getting worse by keeping the bacteria population under control. This will stop the tooth pain from getting worse, at least until you can get an appointment with one of our long island city dentist. The abscess will need to be drained.
When should you not use hydrogen peroxide on teeth for pain?
It may be a great antiseptic but it does not mean that you can indiscriminately use it for all types of tooth pain. In fact, it can make your teeth hurt when you rinse with hydrogen peroxide for the wrong reasons.
Rinsing on an exposed tooth nerve. If there is a big cavity that has an exposed tooth nerve, the rinse can aggravate it and give you a severe toothache. Tooth nerves are normally covered and protected from external stimuli so they are not use to a powerful antiseptic coming into contact with it. Therefore, peroxide will not kill a tooth nerve but what it will do is irritate it more.
Using it when your crown fell off. Your crown not only protects your teeth from chewing forces but also from cold air and any irritating rinses that may come into contact with the dentin. The dentin is very sensitive so the peroxide will make your tooth feel like it is burning. It is similar to rubbing alcohol on a cut, it will hurt.
Rinsing more than once on an open wound. If you have a cut or a sore in your mouth, you are only supposed to rinse with the peroxide one time to disinfect it. It will hurt when you rinse with it but you need it to disinfect the wound. Afterwards, you're suppose to switch to a more gentle mouth rinse such as salt water.
So yes, in some situations it is better to gargle with salt water vs hydrogen peroxide because it is more gentle on the wound. In fact, using the peroxide too frequently may delay healing because it is so acidic and it will not promote wound healing.
Hydrogen peroxide is a viable home remedy for alleviating toothaches but only in certain situations. There are some scenarios where it may not be helpful and may even make your tooth pain worse. If you're unsure about what to do, you can always see one of our LIC dentist for a dental check up to answer your questions or potentially permanently fix the problem.