Can you use Vicks vapoRub for toothache? 

Can you use vicks vapoRub for toothache

Toothache is one of the common dental problem. It occurs as result of bacterial infection in the tooth and its severity often requires prompt treatment. There are several home remedies you can do to relieve toothache when you can’t get hold of the dentist. Vicks vapoRub is an ointment that is available in every home and is often used for pain relieve. In this article, I will talk about using Vicks vapoRub for toothache and how it relieves pain.

What are the contents of Vicks vapoRub and how its relieves Pain?

Vicks contains levomenthol (2.5%), eucalyptus oil (1.5%), turpentine oil (5%), and camphor (5%) as active ingredients. Other components, such as thymol, cedarwood, and soft white paraffin in the vicks, makes it more stable and efficient.  

Let’s see how Levomenthol and camphor relieve pain:

How does menthol relieves pain?

Menthol has been used to relieve pain since ancient times. A modern understanding of its mechanism of action forms the basis for developing menthol-based gels for pain relief.

The topical application of menthol generates a cold feeling by sensitizing the thermosensitive neurons (temperature sensitive neurons). These neurons are found throughout the body. Stimulating thermosensitive neurons causes an influx of calcium ions by opening the calcium channels in the neurons. The resultant nerve depolarization gives a perception of cold in the affected area. 

Menthol-containing gels, such as Vicks vapoRub relieve minor aches and muscle soreness when applied to the affected skin. Menthol containing gels work in the similar fashion as ice or cold therapy. However, they are significantly more effective than ice for muscle soreness. 

It also blocks the nerve channels (gates) in the nerves that generate the pain response, desensitizing them. 

Furthermore, it decreases the production of inflammation-causing substances in the muscles due to its anti-inflammatory properties. 

How does camphor relieves pain?

Camphor has anti-inflammatory, anti-bacterial, anti-fungal, and anti-viral properties. It strongly relieves pain when applied on the infected pulp in the dental office. However, it is not recommended to apply it inside the mouth at home due to systemic toxicity associated with camphor ingestion.

Can you use Vicks vapoRub for a toothache? 

It can be helpful against wisdom tooth pain accompanied by muscle soreness. It accelerates heat loss down the skin by expanding its blood vessels and desensitizing the nerves.  

Also, painful first and second molars (back teeth) may affect the jaw muscles, resulting in difficulty in mouth opening. Vicks may provide relief for them as well.

Toothache arises due to a bacterial infection that invades the tooth’s nerves. The body responds to this damage by the production of specific substances that eliminate the infection and initiate healing process in the area. This body response is known as inflammation, which manifests as pain, redness, temperature rise, and swelling in the affected area. 

Vicks has limited action against toothache because it can’t be applied directly on the painful tooth. However, it can be rubbed on the skin adjacent to the painful tooth in addition to pain medication or home remedies to relieve tooth pain.

Can you put vicks on your gums and teeth?

No, you can’t rub vicks on the gums and teeth and its application is limited to skin only. Camphor and turpentine oil ingestion in the Vicks can cause systemic toxicty.

Camphor is FDA-approved for pain relief and numbing the skin. It is not recommended to use over-the-counter camphor containing ointments inside the mouth. Camphor ingestion can cause burning or irritation of the mouth and throat, nausea and vomiting within 5-15 mins. Severe side affects include trouble breathing, fits, or even death.

Turpentine oil ingestion in large quantities can cause stomach bleeding, kidney failure, loss of vision, vomiting and severe coughing.

Vicks vaporub is not FDA approved. Moreover, the label on the Vicks product suggests its external use only.

A case report on Vicks toxicity

A case of liver toxicity came to spotlight in 2000 in a two month malnourished girl whose parents rub Vicks vapoRub on her chest three times a day for 5 days. The liver damage was reversed and the liver function tests came back normal once the vicks application was discontinued. Vicks is, therefore, not recommended to use in children below 2 years.

In a nutshell, Vicks contains components that stops inflammation, but due to the limitation of its use inside the mouth, it may not be very effective for a toothache.

How to use Vicks for a toothache?

Follow all directions for the application of Vick VapoRub for toothache.

  • Vicks can only be applied on the skin. Avoid any contact with the eyes. Don’t apply it inside the mouth, and be careful not to touch eyes while the ointment is on your hands. If you get the medication in your eyes or mouth, flush it with plenty of water. Moreover, it isn’t recommended to use it for children under two years old. 
  • Rub Vicks vapoRub on the skin adjacent to the toothache and massage it for 30 seconds. Place a dry towel over it and lie down with your head elevated. The menthol fumes from Vicks cool down the skin and help ease mild discomfort. This remedy may not be helpful for severe toothache, but it can be used in addition to pain medications for pain relief.     
  • Do not apply it to the skin that is injured or scraped. Cover the area loosely with a towel to protect the clothing.
  • Heat can increase the risk of side effects, so do not apply this medication right after bathing in hot water, sun bathing, heavy exercise, or hot/humid weather. Please wait until your skin has cooled before applying it. 

Frequently asked questions (FAQ’s)

Can you put Vicks on your teeth?

No, you can’t put Vicks on your teeth. The use of Vicks inside the mouth can cause systemic toxicity. It is mentioned on the Vicks label that it is only restricted for external use. 

Can you use Vicks to brush your teeth?

Cleaning or brushing your teeth with Vicks vapoRub is not recommended. Its formulation doesn’t indicate its use as a toothpaste. Toothpaste, on the other hand, contains mild abrasives, foaming agents, and anti-plaque agents that aid in cleaning the teeth and prevent plaque build-up hours after toothbrushing. 

Is Vicks good for teeth?

Vicks is not safe for intraoral use, so please ensure not to use it inside the mouth. 

Can you use Vicks for gum disease?

Vicks can’t be used for treating gum disease. Gum disease requires plaque and tartar removal to control the disease, and Vicks won’t help with plaque control. Maintaining oral hygiene is the first step towards managing gum disease. 

Do Vicks vapoRub help with bad breath? 

No, Vicks doesn’t help with bad breath. Menthol freshens the breath but the menthol formulation used in Vicks isn’t recommended to be used inside the mouth. Its application is restricted to skin only.

Bad breath mainly results from the bacterial by-products produced by the over-growth of nasty bacteria. Therefore, managing bacterial over-growth with good oral hygiene can help you with bad breath. Untreated deep cavities can also cause bad breath. Consult your dentist if you still have bad breath despite good oral hygiene to find out the cause.

Are there any Benefits of putting Vicks on your feet at night for toothache?

Yes, putting Vicks on your feet may help with toothache. According to Chinese reflexology, the meridian points for toothache lie in the toes of the human body. The left toe corresponds to the right teeth and vice versa. Massaging these points with Vicks may worsen the toothache initially, but will reduce it after a minute, so stay put.

Does Vicks help with muscle pain?

Yes, Vicks helps with muscle pain. Menthol-based gels are more effective for muscle pain than ice therapy. Rub Vicks over the sore muscle three times a day. Please don’t use it over the broken or scratched skin. 

Does Vicks vapoRub help neuropathy pain?

Neuropathic pain is commonly seen in people with diabetes as burning, stabbing, or shooting pain in the feet or legs. Massaging feet with Vicks, especially at night, eases neuropathic pain in the affected area. 

Does Vicks help with an abscess?

Vicks are effective for mild skin abscesses due to their anti-inflammatory properties, but not for tooth abscesses.  

Can you put Vicks on your teeth to whiten them?

No, vicks vapoRub can’t be used on the teeth for whitening. It doesn’t contain any component that has oxidizing properties. Bleaching agent like hydrogen peroxide (at varying concentrations) effectively whitens teeth at home and dental offices. 

Does Vicks help with body aches?

It’s effective against joint pain and muscle aches. Menthol and camphor in the Vicks produce a cold sensation that may temporarily override your ability to feel pain.

Some research suggests that menthol-based gels may be effective for headaches when massaged on the temples for a few mins. 

Does Vicks Vaporub help inflammation?

Yes, it does help with inflammation. When applied on the skin, the camphor in Vicks can relieve inflammation, insect bites, itching, irritation, rashes, sprains, and muscle and joint pain.

Can Vicks burn your skin?

It’s safe to use Vicks on an intact skin. However, it may cause redness or burning on a lacerated or wounded skin. Allergy to Vicks is uncommon and is easily tolerated by most people.

Vicks application gives a cool feeling on the skin and can be mistaken for a burn, so its important to differentiate between the two. Furthermore, if you experience burning after Vicks application you may be allergic it and its best to discontinue its use.


Vicks VapoRub is a menthol and camphor-based gel. It is helpful against muscle aches due to migraines, arthritis, or muscle soreness after exercise. 

Vicks vapoRub relieves muscle soreness caused by toothache. It temporarily relieves toothache and may give you transient and partial relief from severe tooth pain.  

Click on the link for more infomation on, How to manage toothache at home.

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