More on Holistic Dentistry: Holistic Pain Management

We find that most of our patients come to our office because of their commitment to live their life as holistic as possible. Many of our patients come from alternative medicine backgrounds, serving as naturopaths, acupuncturists, chiropractors and oriental doctors. Part of what our patients are seeking when they come to us is to be able to have more control over the materials used in the care of their teeth. In addition, many avoid unnatural medications, eat diets rich in organic vegetables and grass-fed meats and grow their own food.

So, what happens when a tooth starts hurting and taking pain medication, over the counter or prescription, isn’t an option or is the last resort? There are actually some choices of products that you can use, and some of them are probably already in your kitchen.

Let’s start with Salt. Did you know that salt is an antimicrobial? An Antimicrobial is a substance that slows or kills the growth of microbes, such as bacteria and mold. We advise our patients of a warm salt water rinse after they have dental work (except after extractions) to promote healing and reduce the possibility of developing a painful issue.  It also reduces the swelling and inflammation often associated with dental work. To use, mix half a teaspoon of salt in 8 ounces of warm water and rinse your mouth thoroughly

Clove oil is another option for addressing pain.  In addition to containing analgesic properties that can provide a numbing effect, clove is an antibacterial, antimicrobial, anti-oxidant and anti-inflammatory. Clove came to us from Indonesia and it is recognized as not just being a powerful spice. Worldwide it is known as a very powerful medicinal and shows antimicrobial and antioxidant qualities that are considerably higher than other spices and fruits and vegetables. The National Library of Medicine has some great studies on the use of cloves as medicine.  To use clove oil, grind two fresh cloves and mix with a little olive oil. Using a cotton swab, apply to the affected area as needed. Grinding whole cloves is recommended over using already ground cloves as the whole cloves maintain more potency than already ground cloves. For convenience, you can buy clove oil at most health food stores instead. Clove oil is very high in antioxidants; therefore, it has additional healthy effects.

Oregano oil
Oregano oil is antifungal, antiviral, antiparasitic anti-inflammatory and has antiseptic qualities. Go for a high-quality oregano oil you can find in most health food stores. You would use a cotton swab or finger to place some on the gum beside the tooth near the root area.  Oregano oil is very strong and can “burn” the tissue. It is best to test it first by placing a small amount on the inside of your wrist. If that does burn, you can dilute it 50/50 with olive oil to alleviate it. Oregano is often used in Chinese medicine and is also used in medicines that address respiratory issues. It can assist in alleviating digestive issues, fungus, parasites, UTI’s and Rheumatoid arthritis.  It can be used topically to address a variety of conditions from an athlete’s foot and spider bites, to ringworm and warts. To use, add 5-6 drops of pure oregano oil to one ounce of olive oil or other healthy food-grade oil such as olive oil or avocado oil. Apply to the affected area.

It is much more anti-microbial than clove oil. Oregano and clove oil are a great combination of dental pain and infection and are a great asset to any first aid kit for other infections as well.

Traumeel is a homeopathic anti-inflammatory that is an option to non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDS). It has been used in Germany for nearly 70 years. Until recently, it was readily available in the United States and that is not so much the case these days.  It is available readily in many European countries. In 2014 the German maker pulled it from the US market, so it is hard to come by in the U.S. now. A company out of Delaware purchased the US operations, phased out traumeel and replaced it with a product called T-Relief. There have been mixed reviews on its effectiveness. If you can find the original traumeel, it is available in both ointment and capsules. Follow the directions on the product packaging. Some homeopaths use injectable traumeel and it’s difficult to find one who is still able to acquire the real thing. Both have some arnica included, so they are anti-inflammatory as well as pain reducing.

Arnica is a pain reliever often used for bruises and pain and it can help to alleviate sore muscles and joints. Part of the sunflower family, it has been used as a homeopathic since the 1500’s and has a wide array of benefits. Arnica gel or cream  applied along the jawline and or cheek near the effected tooth can alleviate dental pain. There are also small arnica pellets that can be dissolved under the tongue. Arnica is also available in tinctures and mouth rinses.  It is important that arnica only be ingested in a diluted homeopathic form as arnica is toxic when it is not diluted. Topical use is good, though at full strength.


Salt and Pepper Together
We already talked about salt and now let’s take it a step further. Did you know pepper is an antioxidant? Black pepper is also used in ayurvedic medicine to improve digestion and as a remedy for flu and colds. The combination of salt and pepper adds a combined medicinal benefit of these two staple seasonings. To use, combine equal amounts of salt and pepper with a few drops of water then apply to the affected area.

Aside from keeping away certain creatures of the night, garlic is a great homeopathic remedy.  It is an antifungal that also has antibacterial and antiviral benefits. Perhaps it is actually the garlic in chicken soup that makes it such a great remedy for colds, not so much the soup itself. Garlic contains an ingredient called allicin. This ingredient is what gives garlic its healing qualities.  It can be used to prevent gum disease and tooth decay as well as relieve dental discomfort. To use for tooth pain, crush a raw garlic clove sprinkle it with a little salt and apply it directly to the affected area. Chew a couple of garlic cloves if you prefer.  You can also mix the crushed garlic with olive oil and a little salt and apply it to the affected area.

Propolis is a product that comes from honey bees. The flavonoids in it can help suppress the bacteria that cause dental decay. It is an antimicrobial, antioxidant and antiviral. Propolis that is commercially extracted is processed with a variety of different types of solvents, as propolis is not useable in pure form. Because of this, if you choose to use Propolis, try to find a brand organically processed using water. There is a lot of information on the National Library of Medicine Website on this fascinating substance. In tooth extractions, propolis can be used to treat the painful condition that sometimes occurs called dry socket. It speeds up the process of regenerating healthy tissue. It has also been used as a disinfectant during root canals. It is available in capsules, tinctures and pieces. It could be very beneficial in the prevention of dental caries (cavities) by using a propolis toothpaste available in healthfood stores.  Read the label to confirm all the ingredients are natural and confirm there is no triclosan or fluoride. To use to relive dental pain, apply the water-based tincture directly on the gums of an effected area.

There are likely many other herbal remedies for addressing dental pain. Your first course of action should be to contact your dentist at the first sign of a possible problem and hopefully you will be able to avoid the problem getting worse by the passage of time. Also remember that pain causes stress on the whole body, not just the area that is hurting.