I ran across a post yesterday from a lady with questions about natural alternatives to antibiotics for an abscessed tooth. After my own experience, I did some research into what I would do if it happened to me again, so I decided to share what I learned in hopes of helping other people. 🙂
Disclaimers would normally be a the bottom of a post, but abscesses can be very serious medical conditions (people have actually died from them!), so please bear with me for a few seconds…
- What I’m sharing today are only things that I plan to use in the event of another abscessed tooth. I am not a medical professional, so please consider trying to find a naturopathic doctor or dentist to monitor your condition.
- During pregnancy, or in the case of small children, some of these remedies are too strong. I will add a summary of what I would use during pregnancy at the end of the post.
Alright, I’m done being all “gloom and doom”, so let’s talk solutions!
- The first thing on my list might surprise you… I’d change my diet! Currently, we eat about 90% “real” food (we occasionally eat out or order in), but we do use natural sweeteners, which I would cut out entirely. That isn’t because of the whole “sugar on the teeth causes bacteria to grow, which causes decay” theory. Sugar takes more from our bodies than it gives, so it’s overall effect is depleting minerals. (If you are new to “real” foods, I recommend reading this post for a better idea of what it means.) I would also strictly limit my grain intake due to phytic acid and other anti-nutrients that can deplete minerals.
The things I would increase are bone broth, cod liver oil (NOT fermented- that stuff is just rancid!) and grass-fed dairy. Dr. Weston A. Price used cod liver oil, along with a healthy meal every day, to actually heal dental decay in children in the early 1900’s!
- My second line of defense would be to boost my immune system. I really appreciate Siberian Ginseng (Eleuthero root) and Astragalus root for that. They are non-toxic, so I’m comfortable taking them while pregnant or nursing. I take the encapsulated powder and just follow the dosages on the bottles.
- Finally, after giving my body a boost with diet and the oils and supplements above, I would pull out my herbs and natural remedies. If the goals is to draw out the infection, kill the bacteria and heal the damaged tissue, here’s the plan:
- The first thing I would start is something I already do on occasion. Oil pulling. Basically, you put a spoonful of organic coconut oil in you mouth and gently swish it around your mouth for up to 20 minutes. I like to add a drop of peppermint oil. After swishing, spit the oil in the trash (not the sink) and gently floss and brush. Some people say to do this first thing in the morning, but that is unrealistic for my life. I oil pull at night when getting ready for bed.
- Bentonite clay has amazing “drawing” properties, so I would put it to work for me while adding a couple of drops of tea tree oil to soak into the gum and kill bacteria. To use the clay, mix a teaspoon in a small cup with warm water until you have a thick paste. Never use metal to mix, as this will destroy the “charge” of the clay. Add one or two drops of tea tree oil and mix well. Apply to the gum between the gum and cheek, and be careful not to swallow it (bentonite clay is actually a wonderful remedy for internal use, but we really don’t want to be swallowing essential oils). If it helps, a small square of gauze can be placed over the clay to keep it in place. This can be left on for as long as you’re willing to have a chunk of clay in your cheek!
- My next step would be to make an herbal mix for making poultices. My “drawing” herb of choice is plantain, so I would start with a cup of that in a bowl. For their antibiotic properties, I’d add ¼ cup each of juniper berries, Echinacea root, goldenseal, St. John’s Wort, peppermint, cloves, chamomile and calendula (or any combination, but I’d really recommend the first three). Keep the herb mix in an air-tight container away from heat and light. Cheese cloth can be used, but a small square of an old cotton t-shirt might work better for the poultice. To make the poultice, put about 2 tablespoons of the herbal mix in a small heat-proof cup or bowl. Pour just enough boiling water over it to cover the herbs and let it steep until it’s cool enough to handle. Scoop the herbs onto the square of fabric and fold the sides over (like a burrito). Place the poultice between the cheek and gum and keep it there for a couple of hours. You can then repeat with fresh herbs, or alternate with the other treatments. Another alternative would be to soak a cotton ball in the liquid from steeping the herbs and stick that in the cheek, so don’t dump that “tea”. It would also make a good mouth wash right before bed.
- I would also make careful use of essential oils. Chamomile essential oil has a strong drawing effect and lemon and tea tree are antiseptic. As I said before, essential oils are very strong and we really don’t want to be swallowing them, so I’d make a mouth wash and swish several times a day for as long as possible, but especially right before bed. Since I haven’t made this, I would start with 1 cup of very warm water, 1 tablespoon of Celtic sea salt and 2 drops of each of the essential oils. If I was sure that I could handle a stronger concentration without a bad reaction, I might increase the essential oils by a few drops each.
During pregnancy, I’d use the clay, without the tea tree oil. I’d use the herbal mixture except for the juniper berries and the goldenseal. I would do a Celtic sea salt mouth wash, but instead of the essential oils, I’d use a hot tea made from the herbs. I would also increase my fermented cod liver oil and high vitamin butter oil above the minimum dose… maybe even double it. Astragalus root would be my first choice, but I might include the Siberian Ginseng, too.
Abscesses can be just under the gum and not involve the tooth at all, or they can be deep under the gum at the root of a tooth. The length of time for treatment would completely depend on how serious the abscess is. Something mild might completely clear up in a few days, but a serious infection could take daily treatment for several weeks. My plan is to have a naturopathic dentist keep an eye on things for me, if I ever have another abscessed tooth. I would alternate the treatments above during my waking hours, although I have heard of people keeping herbal poultices in overnight. That would be a choking hazard, so please think it through carefully.
I very much hope that the research I did can help somebody else. Please do comment if you have other remedies that have worked for you, or if any of the above ideas help, so that others can benefit!