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Is hot shower good for toothache?

A toothache can be an extremely painful and uncomfortable experience. The throbbing, aching pain makes it difficult to focus on anything else. When someone has a bad toothache, they will try almost anything to get some relief. One home remedy that some people turn to is taking a hot shower. The idea is that the hot water will help soothe the pain and provide temporary relief. But does a hot shower actually help with a toothache? Let’s take a closer look at whether or not a hot shower is an effective home remedy for toothache pain.

Quick Answer: Can a Hot Shower Help Relieve Toothache Pain?

The quick answer is yes, a hot shower can provide some temporary relief for a toothache. The heat from the shower helps increase blood flow to the affected area, which can help reduce inflammation and pain. The sensation of the hot water can also distract from the toothache pain. However, a hot shower is only a temporary fix and does not treat the underlying cause of the toothache. For real relief, it is important to see a dentist for proper treatment.

How Does a Hot Shower Help a Toothache?

There are a few reasons why a hot shower may help provide toothache pain relief:

Increases Blood Flow

The heat from the shower water causes the blood vessels to dilate and increases blood circulation. This boosts blood flow to the area of the toothache. The increased blood flow helps reduce inflammation around the affected tooth and nerve, which can temporarily relieve pain and sensitivity.

Relaxes Muscles

The heat from the water also helps relax the muscles in the head, neck, and shoulders. Toothache pain can cause these muscles to tense up and spasm. The hot water helps loosen tight muscles and reduces muscle tension, providing some pain relief.


The sensation of standing under a stream of hot water can provide distraction from the toothache pain. Focusing on the heat and sound of the water can shift attention away from the aching tooth temporarily. This distraction can make the pain more bearable for a short period of time.


The overall comfort of a hot shower can also temporarily relieve toothache pain. The warmth and relaxation provides a sense of soothing that can make the pain less intense while in the shower.

How Long Does the Pain Relief Last?

While a hot shower can provide toothache relief, the effects are very temporary. Most people report the pain relief only lasts as long as the shower. Once you step out and your body temperature starts to cool down, the pain will likely return. Some people say the relief lasts maybe 30 minutes after the shower before the intense aching comes back. The changes in blood flow, muscle relaxation, and distraction wear off quickly. A hot shower cannot fix the underlying dental issue causing the toothache.

Is a Hot or Cold Shower Better?

This depends on the individual and type of toothache. Here is a quick comparison of hot versus cold showers for toothache:

Hot Shower Benefits

– Increases blood flow to relieve inflammation
– Relaxes muscles to reduce spasms
– Provides distraction and comfort

Cold Shower Benefits

– Numb the area and slow nerve impulses
– Constrict blood vessels to reduce swelling
– Decrease metabolic activity to lessen pain signals

For intense, throbbing toothaches, a hot shower may be more beneficial to increase blood flow and relaxation. For sensitive teeth with sharp nerve pain, a cold shower can help numb the area and slow the pain signals. Try each method to see which provides the most relief. But keep showers brief if trying cold water.

Tips for the Most Effective Hot Shower

To get the most pain relief from a hot shower, here are some tips:

– Water temperature should be comfortably hot, but not scalding.
– Aim the water directly at the side of the face with the toothache.
– Let the water hit the affected area for 5-10 minutes.
– Breathe deeply and relax the muscles.
– End with a brief burst of cool water to constrict blood vessels.
– Gently massage the jaw and neck muscles after the shower.
– Use a clean washcloth soaked in hot water against the cheek.
– Shower before bed for residual relaxation effects.
– Shower in the morning to help get your day started pain-free.

The key is to apply comfortable heat directly to the painful area. The shower should provide relaxation, not cause discomfort or burn the skin.

Why You Still Need to See a Dentist

While a hot shower can temporarily alleviate toothache agony, it does not treat the underlying problem. Here are reasons you still need emergency dental care for a toothache:

Doesn’t Fix the Cause

A hot shower only provides symptom relief but does not cure a tooth infection, damaged nerve, cracked tooth, or other issue causing the toothache. The pain will return without proper treatment.

Prevents Complications

Leaving a dental problem unchecked can allow it to get worse. A minor cavity can turn into a major infection. Seeking prompt care prevents complications.

Avoids Loss of Tooth

Ignoring a serious toothache can ultimately result in loss of the tooth. Getting early treatment improves chances of saving the tooth.

Treats Infection

Infections require prescription antibiotics and dental care. A hot shower cannot clear up an infection.

Repairs Damage

Fixing cracks, replacing fillings, or doing a root canal requires a dentist’s expertise. Self-care will not repair structural damage.

While hot showers provide short-term comfort, visiting a dentist soon for treatment is vital for resolving toothaches.

Hot Shower vs. OTC Pain Relievers

How does a hot shower compare to over-the-counter pain medications for toothache relief? Here are some key differences:

Hot Shower OTC Pain Reliever
– Provides temporary relief – Provides temporary relief
– No medication side effects – Risk of side effects like upset stomach
– No cost – Cost for medication
– Must have shower accessible – More convenient
– Relaxing and soothing – Only treats pain
– Doesn’t fix problem – Doesn’t fix problem

A hot shower can be an affordable, accessible option to try at home along with OTC medication. While medication treats the pain signals more directly, a shower offers additional relaxation benefits. But both are temporary solutions, requiring dental treatment to truly resolve toothaches.

Risks of Overusing Hot Showers for Toothache

While hot showers can safely provide some toothache relief, overdoing it can cause problems. Risks include:

– Burning or damaging skin from water that’s too hot
– Dehydration from repeated long showers
– Interruption of sleep cycles from nighttime showering
– Increased energy costs from excessive hot water use
– Delaying needed dental care due to false sense of relief

Limit hot showers for toothache relief to once or twice a day as needed for short periods. See a dentist to avoid over-reliance on showers for pain management. Monitoring for negative effects like skin irritation, insomnia, and dehydration is also wise if using showers frequently.

Other Home Remedies to Try

In addition to a hot shower, you may want to try these other home remedies to get relief from a toothache while waiting for your dentist appointment:

– Cold compress – Ice pack or cold washcloth on cheek
– Salt water rinse – Helps with inflammation and infection
– Dental wax – Covers exposed dentin/nerves
– Clove oil – Has numbing effect
– Garlic – Has anti-inflammatory and antiseptic properties
– Onion – Has antibacterial properties
– Guava leaves – Reduce pain and swelling
– Peppermint tea – Helps numb pain
– Avoid temperature extremes – No hot/cold foods/drinks

Discuss trying these home remedies with your dentist to make sure they are appropriate for your situation. Proper dental treatment is still essential for resolving toothaches.

When to See a Dentist Immediately

In some cases, a toothache requires urgent dental care. Seek emergency treatment if you experience:

– Difficulty breathing or swallowing
– Fever, chills, or swelling of face/neck
– Fatigue, malaise, or illness-like symptoms
– Sores, lesions, or swelling in mouth
– Severe throbbing pain not relieved by OTC medication
– Facial numbness, especially if radiating from mouth
– Gum inflammation or discharge
– Trauma like hit to the jaw causing pain

These symptoms may indicate a dental emergency like an abscess, infection, or fracture needing immediate attention. For severe toothaches, go straight to the dentist or emergency room.


A hot shower can offer some temporary relief from the discomfort of a toothache by increasing blood flow, relaxing muscles, distracting from pain, and providing comforting warmth. However, the relief is very short-term and does not treat the underlying dental issue. It’s important to follow up with a dentist right away for an exam and proper treatment to resolve a toothache. Avoid overuse of hot showers as the sole treatment method. Check for signs of a dental emergency needing urgent care. While a steaming shower may provide brief respite, skilled dental care is critical for lasting relief from tooth pain. With professional help, you can say goodbye to the agony of a toothache for good!