Using Garlic for a Toothache

Garlic & Tooth Pain

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Medically Reviewed By Colgate Global Scientific Communications

Garlic is a well-known superfood, credited with boosting our health — from stronger immune systems to improved heart health. It's also known for its distinctive smell. In culinary contexts, the odor is often embraced. But garlic is touted as a traditional remedy for tooth pain. And when we think about using garlic for home remedies, it can lead to wrinkled noses. After all, who wants to smell like garlic? And when it comes to oral health specifically, who wants their breath to smell like garlic? Read on to discover more about whether garlic might help ease the discomfort of a painful tooth.

Can Garlic Help with Tooth Pain?

According to some, garlic can ease tooth pain. It's always best to consult a dentist about tooth pain, as cavities aren't always the culprit. And if tooth decay is the culprit, your dentist can treat the underlying problem. But traditional and at-home remedies do offer something to try at 3 a.m. when you can't get a hold of your dentist's office. And there is some clinical support for the idea that garlic might help with tooth pain. A compound found in garlic, allicin, is widely credited with antibiotic activity, which might translate to helping to ease tooth pain.

How Does It Work?

A 2014 review of clinical research outlines the details of garlic's benefits, and it covers ways in which the scientific community has investigated claims that the plant can help battle bacteria, viruses, fungi, tumors, diabetes, cardiovascular disease, and more. They conclude that more research is needed, and that we just don't know that much about potential side-effects from taking garlic or long-term safety, especially for young children and pregnant or nursing women.

What Kind of Garlic?

Raw garlic is considered best for medicinal purposes, in order to preserve the active compounds. Suggestions range from sticking a peeled, raw clove of garlic right on the sore tooth to making a paste of raw garlic cloves, salt, and olive oil, then applying to the tooth. With remedies like these, there's definitely no avoiding the signature smell. Some people advise preparations made with garlic powder — the allicin range for powdered garlic falls within the range that raw cloves can have, but they are on the lower side. With any of these options, whether powdered garlic; whole, raw garlic cloves; crushed raw garlic; or a paste made from raw garlic cloves, you will definitely end up with garlic breath. It might be worth it to give it a shot until your dentist's office is open if your tooth really hurts, though.

Garlic for Tooth Pain

Always see your dentist about any changes in your mouth health, such as tooth pain. It's also best to ask a health professional before trying a new remedy, especially if you are pregnant, nursing, or on other medications. For example, people taking blood thinners should be wary of garlic supplements, because taking garlic in that amount can make it even harder for blood to clot. Be sure to ask a child's pediatrician before giving them a new remedy, as well.


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This article is intended to promote understanding of and knowledge about general oral health topics. It is not intended to be a substitute for professional advice, diagnosis or treatment. Always seek the advice of your dentist or other qualified healthcare provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition or treatment.

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