I am finally over a recent tooth abscess and I have a few tips to share. The pain was almost unbearable and I had to have some ways to combat the pain so that I could treat the abscess. Swishing was excruciating but it helped me kill the infection. Here's my story:
When I first noticed the tooth ache, it was already getting too sore to brush, swish or oil pull. I have a Sonicare toothbrush and I highly recommend it, but this abscess came on like a freight train. I wasn't sure what the problem was since the pain was all over my upper and lower jaw on one side. It was Friday afternoon (of course) so I couldn't get in to see the dentist until Monday unless I called the emergency number and I wasn't sure I wanted to do that. My first course of action was directed at managing the pain. BC powder stopped it in it tracks early on, but it was a short-lived relief and five hours is a long time to suffer before I could take another one. Then I read about cloves. I will forevermore associate the taste of cloves with sweet relief. I can't believe how effective it was - I just crunched on a whole clove and then held it between my cheek and gum on the sore side.
I suspected this tooth pain had some element of infection even though there was no swelling or redness visible. I might have been a little feverish (with frequent environmental reactions that include an inability to control body temperature or tolerate heat, it's hard to tell). I started cutting raw garlic and biting on a piece on that side of my mouth - being sure to allow the garlic juice to pool in that part of my gums before swallowing any of it. I had a lot of raw garlic and it even helped a little with the pain. I just got my latest MRH (Mountain Rose Herbs) order and I was so glad that I remembered to order steam distilled tea tree essential oil. I warmed up some water, added plenty of safe salt and a single drop of tea tree oil and then swished. It was excruciating - I think I even moaned aloud and that is NOT like me (I tend to suffer quietly). The pain held on for a few minutes after the swish (just long enough for me to scream in my head, "Oh no, what have I done?!"), but then it felt better.....MUCH BETTER. I believe that's when I turned a corner and was on my way to recovery. I made a run to the local health food store where I purchased clove bud oil and continued to swab the area around my tooth with a cotton swab saturated with two drops of the oil - this was more convenient and comfortable than the whole cloves. This miracle in a tiny bottle deadened the area and kept me sane between BC powders. I alternated the tea tree oil with the clove oil because I believe the tea tree oil works better against infection even though the clove bud oil deadened it better.
As soon as it it was possible (pain-wise), I started brushing with the Sonicare toothbrush and a single drop of tea tree oil. I also added a drop of the tea tree oil to a spoonful of Tropical Traditions gold label virgin organic coconut oil and used it to oil pull twice a day. We practice oil pulling instead of flossing at my house, so it seemed natural to add a drop of tea tree oil to the coconut oil and I think it made a huge difference. I am still adding a drop of tea tree oil to my toothbrush for one brushing each day and I am still oil pulling. I'm happy to be over the need for BC powders - they helped with pain and the relief was immediate, but I don't like caffeine. One tip: time meals around the BC powders because pain is inevitable after eating regardless of choice of food. I made sure to eat only once it was safe to take another BC and I tried to hold out as long past the recommended six hours as humanly possible.
If this ever happens again, I will immediately start swishing with tea tree oil in salt water. I don't think there is any way around the deep, excruciating pain it causes so there is no need to wait. (I also believe that deep pain is just an indication that the war has begun and the tea tree oil is winning.) I believe that's what sent the infection running, so it makes no sense to put it off. I will chew lots of raw garlic (elephant garlic has a milder taste so it doesn't burn as much), raw ginger (lava hot but effective - cut into tiny pieces). I will never be without clove bud oil or tea tree oil again, either. I suggest everyone buy some and keep it in the house for tooth emergencies - no one wants to try to track it down once a toothache hits. Mountain Rose Herbs is sold out right now, but you can sign up for an email notification when it is available again.
By the way, my friend Erica did all the research on essential oils and it was on her recommendation that I bought the steam distilled tea tree essential oil. The "steam distilled" part is very important. MRH is so helpful that they list what method of extraction is used for each of their oils. It's probably harder to find out that information from other retailers - yet another reason that I love Mountain Rose Herbs.
One word of warning: Even though I firmly believe that herbal remedies are safer than prescription drugs, essential oils are riding the line between them so they need to be taken with more caution than an herbal tea. I believe too much of either the clove oil or the tea tree oil could damage your liver.....same with the BC powder. I was very judicious with the essential oils and BCs but used the coconut oil, raw ginger and garlic liberally for this reason.