How To Kill a Tooth Nerve Permanently

Written & Reviewed by Dr David Chen

If you want to kill a tooth nerve permanently, you have to physically remove it from your mouth or chemically disintegrate it. Those are the only two ways that will get rid of that tooth nerve pain once and for all.

Essentially, you stop feeling pain because you no longer have a nerve in the tooth.

However, both of these methods to kill the nerve of your tooth can only be done by a dentist. That means there is no home remedy that can permanently alleviate your toothache but what they can do is give you temporary relief.

Physically kill the tooth nerve

You can physically kill a tooth nerve by removing it from the tooth or by removing the entire tooth with the nerve in it. The former is called a root canal treatment while the latter is called a tooth extraction. Both of which can only be done by a dentist but they all take longer than 3 seconds so don’t expect instantaneous relief.

A commonality between these two dental procedures is that both of them will mechanically separate the tooth nerve from your mouth. The purpose is simple, to leave you with no nerve so that you’re unable to feel pain.

Both of these dental treatments are irreversible so once its done, the results are permanent.

Root canal

A root canal is an endodontic dental procedure that will manually remove the nerve from the tooth, thus leaving you nerveless. However, the tooth will stay in the mouth except it is now dead and can no longer feel temperatures nor pain.

root canal steps diagram

How a root canal is done:

  1. Administer local anesthesia. Topical anesthesia (Benzocaine) is applied first, followed by the injection with Lidocaine.
  2. Place rubber dam. A rubber dam is placed over the tooth that needs the root canal. This contraption isolates the tooth from the rest of the mouth and serves two purposes.
    • Prevent saliva contamination. The procedure demands that the tooth be as sterile as possible and saliva contains a lot of bacteria so it keeps it away.
    • Patient safety. The rubber dam prevents you from swallowing unwanted substances such as endodontic files and sodium hypochlorite (bleach).
  3. Occlusal reduction. Reduce the height of the tooth so that you don’t get biting pain after the procedure is done.
  4. Tooth access opening. Your dentist will drill through the enamel and dentin in order to reach the pulp where the tooth nerve is located.
  5. Cleaning the canals. The actual process of removing the tooth nerve. This is done with endodontic files to pull out the nerve.
  6. Shaping the canals. The canals need to be flared out and shaped to fit the root canal filling material. The shaping of it will also remove additional tooth structure which also cleans the canals further.
  7. Disinfection. After the root canal has been cleaned and shaped, a final round of disinfection is required prior to filling it. Different dentists will have different preferences as to the combination of disinfectants (sodium hypochlorite, chlorhexidine, EDTA) to use.
  8. Obturation. The canals are filled with gutta percha, a root filling material.
  9. Temporary filling. The pulp chamber is then filled in with a temporary material called Cavit G. It is soft and malleable but will harden once it comes into contact with water.
  10. Return to a restorative dentist. The root canal is now completed but treatment for the tooth is not. The temporary will need to be replaced with a core build up and a crown.

Those are all of the steps involved in how your dentist kills the nerve of the tooth with a root canal procedure. It is quite complicated and not something that you can replicate at home.

Next step after a root canal

Your tooth pain may be permanently gone after the root canal but treatment for the tooth isn’t complete. The tooth is now in a weakened state after the nerve has been removed because the blood supply also gets removed with it.

tooth abscess
Nerves and Blood supply in tooth

Unfortunately, the blood supply for the tooth runs through the very same canal as the nerve does and when your dentist removes the nerve, both of them come out. That means the tooth is devoid of nerves and nutrients.

In order to protect it from fracturing when you bite into hard foods, you need a core build up and dental crown to cover over it.

Tooth extraction

A tooth extraction is a surgical dental procedure that will physically remove the entire tooth along with its nerve from your mouth. Afterwards, you’ll not only be nerveless but also toothless since you’ll have a missing tooth socket.

tooth extraction cartoon

How an extraction is done:

  1. Administer local anesthesia. Numbing gel applied first followed by injectable lidocaine.
  2. Release PDL fibers. Cut the periodontal ligament fibers with a periosteal elevator.
  3. Elevate the tooth. Luxate and loosen the tooth with a dental instrument called a dental elevator. This technique is called elevating the tooth.
  4. Deliver tooth with forceps. Grab the tooth with forceps and gentle remove it from the mouth. It is more secure than using your fingers.
  5. Curette socket. Clean out the inside of the socket by scraping the walls with a curette. This step removes any remaining abscesses and infections.
  6. Irrigate socket. Flush out the extraction hole to remove residual debris.

Depending on how involved the surgical procedure was you may or may not need stitches.

Next step after an extraction

The tooth nerve will be permanently gone after the extraction since the entire tooth was removed along with it. However, you need to deal with the consequence of missing a tooth in your mouth.

Ways to restore a missing tooth:

  • Implant. You can conservatively replace the missing tooth with a dental implant which is a titanium screw that gets placed into the bone. The perks are that you can eat and take care of it as if it was any other tooth in your mouth.
  • Bridge. Alternatively you can shave down the adjacent teeth and get a dental bridge, which are multiple connected crowns. This is less conservative since it involves the adjacent teeth.

Chemically kill the tooth nerve

You can chemically kill a tooth nerve by using toxic substances directly onto the pulp. One such chemical is sodium hypochlorite (bleach) which is potent enough to disintegrate the nerve upon direct contact.

It literally dissolves the pulp tissues and its effects are irreversible, which means it gets rid of the nerve permanently.

Evidence bleach kills the nerve

Bleach can chemically kill the tooth nerve because your dentist uses it during a root canal and there are plenty of scientific studies which demonstrate it.

Dentists use it during root canals

If you’ve ever had a root canal before, you probably remember an intense bleach smell during the procedure. That is right, your dentist is melting the pulp tissues and disinfecting the canals with sodium hypochlorite.

Although your dentist is using a super charged version of it that contains other additives to make it more effective. However, the base of the solution is indeed bleach.

Effects of bleach on tooth nerve tissue

  • Biosynthetic alterations in cellular metabolism
  • Phospholipid destruction
  • Formation of chloramines that interfere in cellular metabolism
  • Oxidative action with irreversible enzymatic inactivation in bacteria
  • Lipid and fatty acid degradation

Put simply, bleach coming into contact with the pulp results in liquefaction of organic tissue.

Why you can’t kill the tooth nerve with bleach at home

Although you may have access to it at home, you shouldn’t use bleach to kill the tooth nerve because it’s unsafe and won’t be effective.


There are serious consequences to swallowing bleach so you should not put it in your mouth.

Potential side effects from sodium hypochlorite accident:

  • Chemical burn
  • Tissue necrosis
  • Rapid tissue swelling
  • Sudden onset of pain
  • Acute sinusitis
  • Bruising and ecchymosis

Your dentist is able to use it safely because they have access to a rubber dam. This rubbery contraption protects your throat by isolating the tooth. Only the tooth comes into contact with bleach.

rubber dam on manikin
Credit: Coltene – Hygienic

You do not have a rubber dam at home so do NOT attempt to put bleach in your mouth!


Despite bleach being able to liquefy organic soft tissue, it cannot dissolve the rock solid enamel. What we’re trying to say is that even if you pour this potent chemical compound on your tooth, it will not kill your toothache.

Your dentist can bypass the enamel because they first drill a hole through it to create a direct access to the nerve. After they’ve established a direct pathway, then they irrigate the pulp with sodium hypochlorite.

In summary, this chemical method is only effective and safe if your dentist uses it but not when you use it at home.

Home remedies temporarily alleviate toothaches

Unfortunately there is no way to kill a tooth nerve at home permanently because all home remedies are temporary at best. However, the vast majority of them simply do little to alleviate your pain other than delay you from seeing the dentist.

Four main reasons why home remedies don’t work:

  • Cannot reach the tooth nerve. The pulp is protected by layers of dentin and enamel. Most remedies cannot penetrate through these layers to reach the nerve.
  • Is not an analgesic. Most remedies do not have a nerve numbing property to them. Why do people recommend using salt or rubbing alcohol which clearly burn?
  • Effects are only temporary. Even the best home remedy which is a painkiller (ibuprofen or acetaminophen) will only temporarily alleviate the pain. Once the effects wear off you will need to take another dose.
  • May be too toxic to use orally. Some remedies are best left forgotten such as using brake fluid or even gasoline for a toothache. Sounds dangerous to you? Yea, it is.

Most toothache home remedies check off at least one of these failed reasons. The really ineffective ones check off all of the boxes…

  • Baking soda
  • Bleach
  • Brake fluid or gasoline
  • Cold compress
  • Essential oils – clove, oregano, tea tree, thyme
  • Hydrogen peroxide
  • Listerine
  • Natural foods – apple cider vinegar, cayenne pepper, cinnamon, coconut oil, garlic, guava leaves, honey, vanilla extract, wheatgrass
  • Painkillers – acetaminophen, aspirin, ibuprofen, anbesol, orajel
  • Salt water rinse
  • Tea bags – green tea, peppermint tea
  • Toothache plant
  • Willow bark


The only way to permanently kill the nerve of your tooth is by seeing a dentist for a root canal or extraction. The former will separate the nerve from your tooth while the latter removes the entire tooth with the nerve. Both of these procedures require an hour appointment so if you were hoping for instant pain relief, you should temper your expectations.

Both of these treatments will render you without a nerve forever. Afterwards that tooth will never be able to feel pain ever again.


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