What Can Hydrogen Peroxide Do For a Toothache?

Written & Reviewed by Dr David Chen

Are you currently having a toothache and wondering if that brown bottle of hydrogen peroxide can do anything for you? Well, you’re in luck because it can do something for you.

hydrogen peroxide - bathroom sink

Hydrogen peroxide is an amazing product with multiple effects and uses:

  • Antiseptic
  • Oral debriding agent
  • Treats minor cuts and abrasions

The label does state that it can be used as an oral debriding agent but does that mean it’ll be effective for a toothache? Peroxide does help with tooth pain but not in the way that you may have thought. There are limitations in what it can do which means that it is not a panacea.

You should think of it as more of a temporary measure to hold you over until you can make it to the dentist for a permanent cure. Nevertheless it is still a wonderful toothache home remedy so we’re going to discuss all of its uses and limitations.

How to use hydrogen peroxide for tooth pain

The best way to use hydrogen peroxide for your tooth condition is by making a mouth rinse. You will need water and a cup because it does require dilution prior to use.

  1. Add 1:1 ratio of water and peroxide. Pour both liquids into a cup.
  2. Stir lightly. Gently stir the mixture so that it incorporates.
  3. Rinse for 60 seconds. Swish and gargle the mixture in your mouth.
  4. Spit out. Do not swallow any of it. Get medical help or call poison control if you do.
  5. Repeat up to four times daily. Use after meals and before bedtime as per DailyMed.

Despite being able to use it multiple times a day, if the symptoms do not improve or worsen within 7 days, you must seek medical help. Furthermore, there is an age requirement for its use.

  • 12 years and older – okay to use.
  • Over 2 and below 12 – requires supervision.
  • Under 2 – consult your doctor or dentist.

What peroxide can do for your tooth

Hydrogen peroxide is an antiseptic and an oral debriding agent. Therefore it will exert those effects on your mouth if you rinse with it.

  • Reduce bacterial load. Studies have shown that it has bacteriostatic and bactericidal properties. Rinsing with a 6% solution for 15 seconds can eliminate half of the bacteria.
  • Cleansing. Rinsing with it can help keep your mouth clean. It will wash away food, debris, plaque, and bacteria which will assist in slowing down your tooth problem.

A peroxide rinse is a home remedy which is meant as a temporary measure which you can use while you wait for your dentist appointment. The most it can do is impede the dental problem because it can’t permanently cure it. Using it is more helpful than not using anything at all.

What peroxide can’t do for your teeth

While peroxide may be effective in killing bacteria, it does not mean that it can treat all teeth problems. If it did, it would list more than just “oral debriding agent” on its label. Here are some conditions to exemplify what it can’t treat.

Alleviate tooth pain

Hydrogen peroxide is NOT a pain reliever which means that it is not a pain medication. If you were hoping that it would reduce the amount of pain coming from your toothache, you’d have better luck elsewhere.

If you wanted to alleviate your tooth pain, it would be more effective to take an actual pain killer such as ibuprofen or acetaminophen.

Motrin 200mg tablets

However we do have to say that you may feel better after rinsing with it. Since the solution is acidic, it makes your mouth burn and tingle which can give you the perception of numbing the pain. That sensation is short lived and is nowhere near as effective as dedicated pain medication.

Kill the tooth nerve

It is impossible for peroxide to kill the tooth nerve because the only way to do it is with a root canal procedure. The process of killing the nerve involves removing it from the tooth completely. The nerve needs to be physically pulled out of the tooth endodontic files.

The point we’re trying to make is that it is a physical process and not a chemical one. The peroxide rinse works chemically by killing bacteria but that is insufficient to kill the pulp. Therefore if you’re having tooth nerve pain, this home remedy may not be that effective for you.

Get rid of a tooth infection

Hydrogen peroxide can slow down a tooth infection but will NOT get rid of it. What it will do is reduce the amount of bacteria in your mouth but it doesn’t treat the source of the infection.

Usually the source of the infection comes from an infected tooth nerve or from an abscess inside of the tooth. In order to get rid of the infection completely, you need to treat the source. Otherwise the source will continually produce more infection and more bacteria.

  • Extraction. Taking the whole tooth out will get rid of the infection.
  • Root canal. Removing the nerve and cleaning out inside of the tooth.
  • Incision and drainage. A palliative treatment which can reduce the swelling but would still require either an extraction or root canal later on.

In other words, rinsing with it can impede the spread of the abscess but it cannot get rid of it. You will require further treatment by a dentist if you have a true infection.

When it can and can’t help

While hydrogen peroxide is not a panacea, it is still effective as an antiseptic mouthwash so there are conditions which it can treat. Although on the other side of the coin, there are also conditions which it won’t be effective for.

As you may have astutely noticed, it seems to work well for minor problems. The more severe ones would require professional intervention.

Conditions where it can help:

  • Mild gum inflammation. Mild bleeding or inflammation of the gums may be successfully treated with this rinse.
  • Small cut in mouth. Rinsing with it once for a small open wound can disinfect it. However rinsing with it more than that may be detrimental because it would just burn it.
  • Mild gingivitis. Very mild gum disease can certainly benefit from an additional rinse with an antiseptic. Treating gingivitis does include reducing bacterial load in your mouth.

Conditions where it wouldn’t be much help:

  • Tooth nerve pain. The nerve is located in the middle of the tooth. It is difficult for the peroxide to penetrate through three layers of the tooth to reach the nerve to offer any pain relief.
  • Exposed tooth nerve. An exposed nerve is very sensitive to all types of stimuli. Room temperature water will even aggravate it. That means rinsing with an acidic solution like hydrogen peroxide will only burn it rather than help it.
  • Abscesses. The abscess will continually produce more infection until the source is treated. The only way to get rid of it is with a root canal or extraction.
  • Fallen off crown. If your tooth never had a root canal, it will be extremely sensitive to all types of rinses since it is still alive. The exposed dentin is full of nerve endings. Although if you did get a root canal on it, the peroxide rinse will not bother it.
  • Severe gum disease. Periodontitis cannot be treated with a simple mouth rinse. At the bare minimum a deep teeth cleaning is required because even a regular one won’t suffice.


Rinsing with hydrogen peroxide can be used to treat minor oral conditions. Although it may not be very effective for the more serious conditions such as infections and abscesses.

However due to its antiseptic properties it can still reduce the bacteria in the mouth thus impeding the spread of infection. The effect is only temporary since it doesn’t address the source of the problem. You’ll still need to make an appointment with your dentist to permanently fix it.

In our opinion we would still use it while you’re waiting for your appointment. Using something that is at least mildly helpful is better than not doing anything at all.


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