How to remove tooth decay yourself

Tooth decay, a common dental woe, occurs when the hard outer layer of your tooth, the enamel, deteriorates due to bacterial activity. Left unchecked, it can lead to cavities, infections, and excruciating pain.

Toothaches can be relentless, and the allure of a quick at-home solution to alleviate the pain caused by tooth decay can be tempting. After all, the internet is rife with DIY dental remedies that promise immediate relief. While some home remedies might offer temporary relief, they are no substitute for professional dental care.

But before you reach for that makeshift toothache potion or attempt to tackle tooth decay on your own, it’s crucial to understand the potential risks and limitations of Do-It-Yourself dental care, while looking at some home remedies you can safely try at home:

Home Remedies for Tooth Decay Relief

While it’s important to reiterate that home remedies cannot replace professional dental care, some people turn to these methods for temporary relief from tooth decay symptoms. These remedies might help alleviate pain and discomfort temporarily, but they don’t address the underlying issue and should only be considered as a stopgap measure.

Here are some common home remedies:

1. Saltwater Rinse

Gargling with warm saltwater can help reduce inflammation and provide temporary relief from toothache. Dissolve half a teaspoon of salt in eight ounces of warm water, and swish it around your mouth for 30 seconds before spitting it out.

2. Clove Oil

Clove oil contains natural analgesic (pain-relieving) properties. Applying a small amount of clove oil to the affected area with a cotton ball can numb the pain temporarily.

3. Over-the-Counter Pain Relievers

Non-prescription pain relievers like ibuprofen or acetaminophen can help alleviate toothache pain. Follow the recommended dosage instructions on the label.

4. Cold Compress

Applying a cold compress to the outside of your cheek can reduce swelling and provide relief from toothache.

5. Garlic

Chewing a piece of garlic or making a paste from crushed garlic cloves and salt and applying it to the affected tooth may help reduce pain.

6. Peppermint Tea

Peppermint tea contains soothing properties. Swishing a cooled peppermint tea bag in your mouth may temporarily ease discomfort.

7. Hydrogen Peroxide Rinse

Mixing hydrogen peroxide with water (half water, half hydrogen peroxide) and using it as a mouthwash can help kill bacteria and reduce pain.

8. Turmeric Paste

Turmeric has natural anti-inflammatory and analgesic properties. Mixing turmeric powder with water to create a paste and applying it to the affected area can provide relief.

Dangers of DIY Decay Removal

Without professional materials, tools and techniques, decay removal attempts often cause significant damage while failing to fully eliminate the caries.

Attempting decay removal on your own risks:

Further tooth damage

There is a risk of permanently damaging healthy tooth structure when attempting to access caries yourself. You lack specialized training and precision instruments to distinguish affected versus healthy areas. Irreversible tooth structure would be removed unnecessarily.

Spread bacteria

This may lead to spreading bacteria deeper into vulnerable inner tooth layers, exacerbating the problem. Decay removal is more complex than drilling which you do not have proper equipment for.

Trauma and pain

You may cause trauma and sensitivity trying to dig out decay. The pulp nerves may be exposed, resulting in severe pain. You risk needing a root canal.

Enamel damage

You may end up fracturing the undermined enamel, requiring a crown or other repairs. Decay develops in hard-to-see interiors. Excavating without x-ray vision makes the tooth prone to cracks or splitting.

Cause infections

You risk further infecting the area by introducing more bacteria when performing a DIY procedure without adhesion and sealants. This leads to new problems like abscesses.

Safe Decay Removal by your Dentist

Instead, have decay properly diagnosed and safely removed by your dentist who:

  • Uses radiographs to detect hidden caries and assess extent.
  • Applies anesthesia so caries excavation is painless.
  • Uses high precision tools to differentiate decayed vs healthy tooth structure.
  • Removes all affected enamel and dentin to stop the lesion.
  • Applies medication and sealant materials to prevent recurrence.
  • Restores form and function with bonded fillings or crowns.

Don’t risk harming teeth permanently by trying unskilled, blind extraction attempts. Leave decay removal to the professionals! They stop caries safely and restore strength and aesthetics.

Preventing Caries Progression at Home

While you should never remove decay yourself, help limit damage before your appointment by:

  • Brushing carefully around the decay, but not aggressively on it to avoid trauma.
  • Flossing carefully to dislodge trapped foods.
  • Rinsing with antibacterial products to deter bacterial growth.
  • Avoiding very hot, cold, acidic or sticky foods that aggravate the lesion.
  • Taking over-the-counter pain relief for sensitivity until it can be properly treated.

Final Note

Also keep in mind that the home-remedies discussed above should only be used as a temporary solution to manage pain until you can seek professional dental care. Tooth decay requires a dentist’s expertise for proper diagnosis and treatment.

Be patient, see your dentist promptly, and avoid any foolish scratching or probing of decay. With their expert skills and advanced tools, the caries can be arrested and your tooth restored beautifully and painlessly.

Attempting to remove decay at home can lead to further complications, so it’s crucial to consult a dentist for comprehensive care.


  • Editorial team

    A team comprising oral health care professionals, researchers, and professional Writers, striving to impart you with the knowledge to improve your oral health, and that of your loved ones. 

  • Lilly

    Lilly, aka, Liza Lee, is a passionate community oral health officer and our lead writer. She's not only well-versed in performing a multitude of dental procedures, including preventive, restorative, and cosmetic, but also an avid writer. Driven by the significant oral health burden all around her, Lilly strives to build capacity and promote oral health. She envisions making a lasting impact by advancing research, prevention, and promotion efforts to alleviate oral health disparities. Please share your views and opinions on my posts.

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