Can You Massage a Toothache Away?Beth Rush
While you should always see a dentist or another health care professional for persistent toothaches, you may temporarily relieve pain with some acupressure techniques.
Acupressure stems from ancient Chinese healing practices, where it aims to stimulate specific body points to improve life force or “qi.” According to traditional Chinese medicine, all pain and discomfort stem from a blockage or an overflow of your life force. When you stimulate your muscles and nerves, your qi will flow normally again, relieving your pain.
Pressure Points to Relieve a Toothache
You can find the Hegu or LI4 Point for toothache relief on the back of your hand, in the webbing between your thumb and index finger. Apply firm pressure there using your opposite thumb and hold for a minute or two, taking deep breaths.
Another point that can relieve your pain is the Jiache or ST6 Point. It’s on the jawbone just below the mouth’s outer corner. Apply firm pressure and massage it in circles for several minutes. There’s also the Quanliao or SI18 Point right below the eye’s outer corner on the lower cheekbone edge. Do gentle circle motions on the area until you feel some relief.
The Ermen or SJ21 Point is located in front of the ear and becomes noticeable when you open your mouth. This pressure point is ideal for pain radiating from your molars. The Fengchi GB20 Point at the back of your head, outside of the spine in the depression between two neck muscles, might also help. It’s commonly used for headaches and neck pain as well.
You might find relief from the Neiting or ST44 Point on your foot. It sits between the second and third toes, about half an inch from the webbing.
All these points are bilateral, meaning they’re on both sides of your body. Depending on your pain’s location, stimulate one or both sides. You can use the Chinese scraping stones gua sha to apply stronger, targeted pressure.
Addressing Your Toothache at Home
If you’re looking for ways to address toothaches at home, try these methods instead of massage or acupressure:
- Cold compress: Apply a cold pack or ice wrapped in a thin cloth to the side of your face where the pain is located and leave the pack on for about 15 minutes. This method can numb the area, reducing pain and swelling, especially if your toothache comes with swelling or trauma.
- Saltwater rinse: Gargling with warm salt water can act as a natural disinfectant. It helps clear debris stuck between teeth, decreases inflammation and heals oral wounds. Mix half a teaspoon of salt in eight ounces of warm water, swish it in your mouth for 30 seconds and spit it out.
- Hydrogen peroxide rinse: A diluted rinse with hydrogen peroxide can soothe pain and inflammation. It also decreases plaque and heals bleeding gums. Always mix the peroxide with equal parts water. Don’t swallow it — be sure to rinse your mouth with plain water afterward.
- Over-the-counter pain relievers: Non-prescription pain relievers, like ibuprofen or acetaminophen, can provide temporary relief. Always follow dosage instructions and be aware of any interactions with other medications.
- Topical numbing gels or ointments: You can find these at most drugstores. They can numb the affected area for a short while.
- Clove oil: The main component of this spice, eugenol, acts as a natural anesthetic. Put a little on a cotton ball and place it on the sore spot for a temporary numbing effect.
- Peppermint tea bags: Placing a slightly warm, moistened tea bag against the painful tooth or gum can be soothing.
- Elevate your head: Propping up your head with pillows while sleeping or resting can reduce blood flow to the hurting area, possibly decreasing pain. Acid reflux can cause tooth sensitivity, which can be aggravated if you have a toothache. Reclining on the bed can minimize the effects of acid reflux on your teeth.
- Avoid certain foods: Avoid very cold, hot, sweet or acidic foods and drinks that might worsen the pain.
- Good oral hygiene: Regular brushing and flossing can prevent further irritation.
Best Way to Handle a Toothache
Always see a dentist if you have a toothache to identify and treat the real cause, such as cavities, gum disease, abscesses or other dental problems. Until you can get to the dentist, avoid chewing on the painful side and stay away from pain-triggering foods or drinks.
Acupressure and the use of massagers might help some people, but it’s not a substitute for professional dental care. Remember, while home remedies can give temporary relief, only a dentist can provide a long-term solution for toothaches.
It’s also important to take preventive measures. Regular oral hygiene, with consistent brushing, flossing and mouthwash, promotes dental health. Regular dental check-ups are crucial, allowing dentists to spot and address potential issues early. Limit sugary foods and drinks to avoid cavities and steer clear of extremely hot or cold foods if they cause pain.
Toothaches are thieves of joy. How can you enjoy life when there’s shooting pain going straight to the top of your head every time you open your mouth?
Myobuddy’s electronic massagers can help relieve pain while you’re waiting for your dentist appointment. Seeking the right dentist ensures thorough, safe and effective treatment for oral health issues.