Since publishing Dental MythBuster #5 – Placing aspirin on a tooth cures a toothache, the post has racked up over 47,000 views and averages approximately 100 per day (as of March 2016). No wonder. People are always looking for home remedies and a do-it-yourself solution for a toothache is searched upon quite often.
Many have posted comments claiming I am wrong. But the only piece of evidence offered by the posters is simply a summary of their own personal experience(s). It goes something like this:
I did it – and the pain went away – so it works – so you’re wrong.
Making broad generalizations based upon one single experience does not prove anything. What if I wrote this:
I smoked 2 packs a day for fifty years and I don’t have lung cancer. So cigarettes must not cause lung cancer then.
Would you agree with that person? Or would you say – everyone knows smoking will cause lung cancer – you can’t generalize based on one experience.
A Home Remedy for a Heart Attack
No, this is not a joke. I am bringing up this specific example to show that placing an aspirin next to a broken tooth will do more for your heart than the tooth!
Many readers know that if/when a heart attack is suspected, one of the first things you are supposed to do (besides calling 911) is to chew on an aspirin. Note that we said chew and not swallow. There are literally hundreds of sources for this, including the Red Cross and the American Heart Association. In fact, it is a critical part of the BLS/CPR algorithm (here is a link from the New York Times).
Why should you chew and not swallow the aspirin?
Simple. Because the thin mucous membrane of the mouth – especially under the tongue – allows for the aspirin to be absorbed into the bloodstream quickly. In this study, chewed aspirin exerted its desired effect almost two and half times faster than aspirin that was swallowed.
So, to summarize, when you place an aspirin in most areas of the mouth, it goes into the bloodstream quickly and goes to exert its effects on the heart and other organs – all far away from the mouth.
But What about the Tooth?
So if the asprin is absorbed and enters the bloodstream, how does it help the tooth? It doesn’t. Or more accurately, for toothache relief, it doesn’t matter whether you swallow, chew, or place the aspirin next to the tooth.
To those who are still claiming that placement of an aspirin next to the tooth will cure a toothache, I’ll ask this question:
How does the aspirin know to leave the mouth and go to the coronary arteries of a heart attack victim but to stay next to a throbbing tooth?
It doesn’t. This is why placement of an aspirin next a tooth won’t work any more effectively for toothache than swallowing it. The only difference is that you can get a nasty chemical burn of your gums (as seen in the first post).