Old Fashioned Cures for A Toothache

I am so grateful for modern dental care, and the fact that is readily available. There was a time, however, when a toothache was a major ordeal. For this reason, there is quite a lot of folklore that covers an amazing array of cures for a toothache. Some of them might even actually work – and if you really don’t want to go to the dentist, you might want to give one or two of them a try. The first one, oil of cloves, actually works really well when applied directly.

  • Oil of cloves for a tooth ache.
  • Bite into a hot raisin right on the tooth that aches.
  • To cure tooth aches, hold whiskey over tooth in the mouth.
  • Take blood from around the tooth that aches and carry that to an oak tree that’s been struck by lightning. On the north side of the tree, pull the bark down, put the blood in there, and then shove the bark back up. This will kill your toothache.
  • Get a wasp’s nest and smoke it. That will cure a toothache.
  • If you’ll take the ear drum from a hog and paint it and tie it around your neck and wear it like a necklace it will cure the tooth ache.
  • Another method of treating toothache is to tie knots in a string, one knot for every tooth which does not ache.
  • To cure toothache, cut bits of your hair and nails, bore a hole in an apple-tree, and plug in the cuttings. The tooth will never ache again.
  • Chewing tobacco is a good pain reliever for tooth aches and insect stings.
  • For tooth ache- inhale the aroma of coffee beans being roasted over a slow fire, under cover of a blanket.
  • Asparagus root (because of its shape) will cure a tooth ache.
  • Cinnamon. Chewing gum strongly impregnated with cinnamon was obtainable at stores. Packing a tooth cavity with this alleviated the ache.
  • For teeth which ache and have worms (ca. 9th century): Work up radishes with goat’s fat and heat it and anoint the patient therewith and let him open his mouth that the worm may come up out of it.
  • Chew the seed of Jimson weed (Stramonium) for tooth ache.
  • For a tooth ache go out a find a garter snake and bite it, and there will be no more toothache.
  • A mother should always swallow the first baby tooth her child loses, as this protects the child from every having a tooth ache as long as she lives.
  • To relieve toothache, heat up salt and put it in a little back and hold it to place where ache is.
  • Wash your hands before your face and you will never get a tooth ache.
  • For teeth which ache and have ache and have worms (ca. 9th century): Take a thick reed and cut in one end of it a small slit, and put on the fire a rose of the rhododapus tree so that the smoke thereof may enter (the reed and pass by it) to the teeth, and the worms will die.
  • If you have the tooth ache, just chew a garlic button.
  • Remedy for toothaches: Apply tip of a kitchen match (with sulphur tip) to the spot that aches.
  • If a tooth has been pulled because of a toothache, it must be thrown into the fire, or the ache will return.
  • Hellebore. The powder of the Root put into a hollow tooth, is good for the tooth ache.
  • All donkeys have on their backs a small black cross. This was their reward for witnessing the birth of Christ in the stable. If a person takes one hair from this cross and puts it in the tooth that aches, the pain will go away.
  • For teeth which ache and have worms (ca. 9th century): Pound raisins, boil them in olive oil and rub the teeth therewith, and let some of it remain in thy mouth.
  • Cure for toothaches: use salt that has been formed in a solid shape by water and rub it on the teeth that ache.
    Wash the mouth with lemon extract and hold some of it in the mouth covering the affected tooth to stop tooth ache.
  • For a toothache, let someone who is not a relative of the sufferer, drill a hole in a tree. Then the sufferer spits into it three times, drives a nail in after the ache, and takes care never to return to the place.
  • For teeth which ache and have worms (ca. 9th century): Boil roses, myrtle, raisins, root of tamarisk, sumach, thorns and olive leaves in vinegar and let the patient hold it in his mouth.
  • To cure a tooth ache, you tie a string around a cotton wood tree, tie as many knots as you have teeth in your mouth and your tooth ache will go away.
  • I have heard taught one for ye tooth ache, to go thrice about a church yarde, and neuer thynke on a fox tayle.
    The tooth is to picked with a splinter from a tree struck by lightning – the ache will cease but the tooth will decay.
  • For a toothache, prick the bad tooth with nine kinds of wood till blood flows. Put the spikes in a tree, and when they wilt, the ache will be gone.
  • To calm a tooth ache, rinse the mouth with very salty water with a little vinegar.
  • To cure tooth aches, people will help a bug or insect to get on its feet if it has turned over.
  • For the tooth ache, if the tooth be hollow. Take gum opium, gum camphor, and spirits of turpentine, equal parts, rub them in a mortar to a paste, dip lint in the paste, and put it in the hollow of the tooth every time after eating. Make use of this three or four days, and it will entirely cure the tooth from ever aching. All components are well-known tooth-ache remedies. Opium is used because of its content of morphine, the queen of pain relievers. It seems that turpentine is used to kill the nerve, while opium acts as a pain reliever during the process.
  • Put some tobacco in the tooth to cure a toothache.
  • Biting in a tree to rid oneself of a tooth ache.
  • Take the forelegs of a mole and one of the hind legs, and put them into a bag. Wear it round your neck, and you will never have the toothache.
  • To calm a tooth ache, rinse the mouth with brandy.
  • Smoke wicker sticks for tooth ache.
  • Put your right shoe on first thing in the morning and you won’t have the tooth ache.
  • Put your left shoe on first and you will never have the tooth ache.
  • For a toothache, hold a little liquor in your mouth on the side where the tooth aches.
  • A cat’s skin is a good remedy for toothache. You should keep a dried cat’s skin and hold it to your cheek when your tooth aches.
  • The people of Stamfordham some eighty years ago, had an “excellent” recipe for the curing, and prevention, of toothache. They walked to Winters Gibbet, on Elsdon Moor, some twelve miles away, for a splinter of wood from the gibbet. This, applied to the tooth, disposed of the ache in a jiffy!
  • Use cake- flavor for tooth aches.
  • Baking powder sometimes put into a tooth cavity for [treating] a tooth ache.
  • For teeth which ache and have worms. (ca. 9th century): Pound thorns and olive leaves with honey and strong vinegar and let some of the mixture remain in thy mouth.
  • He who drinks from all three of the spouts of the San Cayetano fountain will no longer suffer tooth aches.
  • If you have a toothache, put some spices on the tooth and the ache will stop.
  • Ireland had two popular superstitions for this unpleasant ache. The first one entailed either the drinking of water from a human skull, or the taking of a pinch of clay from the grave of a priest and putting it into your mouth. You then had to kneel down, say a Paternoster and an Ave, following which it was credibly supposed that you would never again have toothache so long as you lived.
  • Pick the sore tooth with a skinned stick until the gums bleed. Hide the stick in the woods, and the ache will vanish
  • Put the first aching tooth you have pulled in a glass of whiskey. Then drink the whiskey, and you will never have occasion to have another tooth pulled because it aches.
  • If you have a toothache, put a horseradish poultice on the wrist opposite the side the tooth is on, and the ache will go away.
  • If you have a toothache, put a horseradish poultice on the wrist opposite the side the tooth is on, and the ache will go.
  • To treat toothache, go to the fields or woods and find the jawbone of a horse. Get down on your knees and pick up the bone with your teeth, then walk backward, keeping yours hands behind you. The number of steps you take before dropping the bone indicates the number of years that will elapse before the tooth aches again.
  • Cold iron is best remedy for tooth ache.
  • A spider web put in an aching tooth will cure the ache.
  • Let the person that is troubled with the tooth-ache lay on the contrary side, drop three drops of the juice of rue [final letter of rue not quite distinguishable] into the ear, upon that side the teeth acheth. Let it remain an hour or two, and it will remove the pain.
  • Catch a frog under open sky, spit into its mouth, conjure it to take ache with itself so that one will suffer toothache no more and then release it..
  • If you have a toothache, you can cure it by tying three knots in your fishing line before you begin to fish. The ache will leave soon.
  • If you have a toothache, tie a fishing line around it (the tooth), with a dozen knots in it and the tooth ache will leave.
  • If you have a toothache, take the piece of grass which a cow brings home after the first day in the pasture, dry it and whenever the tooth aches, place it on the tooth.
  • For toothaches, boil roots of Aralia cordata and drink the liquid.
  • Vanilla on a tooth will ease a tooth ache. So will straight whiskey.
  • To stop a tooth ache put green black walnut juice on it.
  • Tooth Ache Drops – One oz. of chloroform, one oz. of spirits of camphor and half a drachm of oil of cloves. Keep in a tightly in a tightly corked bottle and apply a cotton batting to the cavity of the tooth or on a piece of flannel if applied to the face or jaw.
  • To burn the “little nerve ” in the ear will cure the tooth- ache forever.
  • For tooth ache, mingle a wood goats gall with oil; smear very frequently with that; then they, the teeth, shall be hole.
  • If your tooth aches before seven o’clock, it will end before eleven.
  • To stop tooth ache go find an old dead cow’s skull. Wrap it up and hide it. The tooth ache will go a way.
  • When a tooth is pulled, take it and place it under a rock or throw it over your left shoulder, and none of your remaining teeth will ache.
About worms in the teeth:

It was the common belief amongst country folk when I was a child, twenty-five years ago, in Derbyshire, that tooth ache was caused by a worm or grub eating at the root of the tooth. The belief has not yet died away. There was a curious mode of extracting this worm. A small quantity of a mixture of dried and powdered herbs was placed in a tea-cup or other small vessel, and live coke from the fire was dropped in. The patient then held his or her open mouth over the cup and inhaled the smoke as long as it could be borne. The cup was then taken away and a fresh cup or glass, containing water, was put before the patient. Into this water the person “hosted,” that is breathed hard, for a few moments, and then, by those with much faith, could be seen the worm or grub in the water, and of course the cure was complete.

A personal account of something that apparently worked:

“Two years ago we had a neighbor that had two bad teeth aching. He didn’t know about this cutting your toe-nails [Some say finger-nails] on Friday to keep from having the toothache, so he went to the dentist one Thursday and had his teeth worked on, and the dentist told him to come back the next week and he would fill them. That night he was telling me about it, and I said, ‘Trim your toe-nails on a Friday.’ The next day he got up and trimmed his toe-nails on Friday, and has been doing it ever since. And he never went back to have the two teeth filled, because they have not ached since, and that is two years ago.”


If you do try some of these cures, please be sure to use common sense, and do a little research to make sure that any plants or herbs prescribed are not poisonous.

Source: UCLA Folk Medicine Database

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