Whiskey to Relieve Toothache. Why It Works And Why You Should Not.

When you suffer from a toothache, you may have tried everything to relieve the pain but to no avail. Painkillers, numbing gels, cold compress, salt water rinse, and even garlic.

But have you ever heard of using whiskey to relieve a toothache? It may sound counterintuitive, but this age-old remedy can actually be an effective way to reduce pain and inflammation from a toothache.

For centuries, whisky has been a used as a universal remedy to relieve pain and discomfort. In fact, its history in medical treatment dates back to the Civil War when it was used in the battlefield to clean wounds. Fast forward to present day, the numbing effect of whisky combined with its supposed antiseptic properties has made it a go-to solution for people with toothache. But, beyond its reputation as a folk remedy, what is it about whiskey that makes it effective for treating toothache? And, are there any downsides to using it?

In the rest of this article, we will take a closer look at the science behind it and discuss the cons of using it as a home remedy to relieve toothache. Whether you’re someone who has relied on whiskey for your toothache, or you’re simply curious about this age-old tradition, read on to learn more.

The Science Behind It

Like a mouthwash, the myth suggest that one should swish whisky in the mouth for approximately 30 seconds before spitting it out. An alternative method is to soak a cotton ball in whisky and press it against the tooth that is causing the pain. There are numerous reasons why whisky can be an effective method to relieve a toothache.

First of all, the alcohol content acts as a local anesthesia, providing a numbing effect when it is swished in your mouth. It works by suppressing the pain receptors, reducing the volume of pain signals reaching the brain. As a depressant, alcohol impairs and slows down brain activity by suppressing messages from the nerve receptors in the tooth to the brain. This temporarily impairs a person’s judgement and perception of pain.

Secondly, the high alcohol content of whisky allows it to act as an antiseptic, killing any bad bacteria that can cause an infection in the mouth.

Downside of Using Whisky

In spite of the seemingly magical ability of whisky to cure a toothache, one must always weigh the pros and cons of such home remedies.

It is important to note that whisky is a highly acidic alcohol. Most whisky have a pH range of between 3 and 4.5, while the pH range of the human mouth is between 6.2 and 7.5. Acidic drinks and food will not only contribute to the erosion of the tooth enamel but also prolong the recovery process in the event of an ulcer or after a wisdom tooth removal.

You may be interested in: Does Wisdom Teeth Removal Hurt at All?

Adding on, the alcohol in whisky will not only destroy the bad bacteria but also the good bacteria in the process, leaving your mouth at risk of an infection. In fact, many heavy drinkers, defined as more than 14 alcoholic drinks a week, have a lower concentration of good bacteria than most non or light drinkers.

Alcohol is also an inflammatory substance, meaning that excessive consumption of it can cause inflammation. In a study conducted by the University of Porto in Portugal, the study concluded that high amounts of alcohol in the body led to high levels of C-reactive protein (CRP). The more CRP there is in the blood, the more inflammation spreads.

One must be aware that excessive drinking of whisky can lead to a host of short-term health risks including dehydration, blurred vision, and nausea. In the longer run, it can lead to alcohol addiction if one heavily rely on alcohol consumption to numb the pain. Alcoholism causes a range of health conditions ranging from diabetes and high blood pressure to a weakened immune function and even bone loss.

Last of all, alcohol must not be consumed together with certain medication. The mixing of alcohol and specific over-the-counter medications can lead to serious complications including drowsiness, nausea, and in severe cases, breakdown of the organs. For instance, alcohol must not be mixed with aspirin as it can damage the lining of the stomach. On the other hand, alcohol and insulin can cause severe reactions including life-threatening low blood sugar levels.

Will Any Alcohol Works?

Technically, any type of alcohol with an alcohol percentage higher than 20% would work well to numb the pain and disinfect the area where the toothache is located. This mainly consist of spirits such as gin, vodka, and rum. In contrast, one should not use alcohols with high sugar content as it can led to the buildup of plaque and exacerbate the dental problem. Alcohols with high sugar content include red wine, white wine, and beer in general.

That said, whisky or any alcoholic drinks are not a substitute for medication or dental treatment as they merely provide temporary numbing effects and does not address the root cause of the pain. It is always best to seek help from a professional dentist or dental surgeon who will be able to provide the appropriate course of action to treat your toothache.