Even though your pearly whites are pretty small, a toothache can cause straight up enormous amounts of pain. If you can’t get in to see the dentist ASAP, you might need to find comfort by taking matters into your own hands, at least for the time being.
We’re not talking about performing DIY dental surgery or anything. (Even if you’re currently under a stay-at-home order, please leave that to the pros.) We’re talking about home remedies to relieve the mind-numbing pain until you can get the problem checked out.
What’s worth trying? Turns out you’ve got a bunch of options to pick from. Here are 11 home treatments for your toothache.
Non-steroidal inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) like ibuprofen and naproxen are tried-and-true pain relievers designed to ease inflammation, which can go a long way toward dulling tooth pain.
Combining NSAIDs with acetaminophen might be even more effective if you’re dealing with really serious discomfort, but talk with your dentist about dosing before combining multiple pain meds.
BTW, we’re talking about swallowing pain relief pills here. Putting a pain reliever directly against your gum can burn your gum tissue, so definitely don’t do it.
A glass of warm water mixed with 1/2 tsp salt can help in a few important ways. First, salt is a natural disinfectant, so it could help fight bacterial inflammation that’s making your tooth hurt.
Also? Sometimes mouth pain is caused by bits of food stuck between your teeth — and swishing some water around could be all you need to dislodge the gunk and start feeling better.
A pack of frozen peas or DIY cold pack against your cheek is ace at easing tooth discomfort, especially if you’re dealing with trauma like a chipped or cracked tooth.
Why? Cold causes blood vessels to constrict, which in turn reduces blood flow and eases painful swelling and inflammation. For the best results, apply the cold pack for 20 minutes then take a 20-minute break, repeating as often as needed.
Homemade hydrogen peroxide mouthwash works a lot like a saltwater rinse to fight inflammation and swelling caused by bacteria. It can help you feel more comfortable.
To make the rinse, combine equal parts 3 percent hydrogen peroxide with water. Swish it around your mouth for a minute or 2, but obviously, do not swallow it.
If your tooth pain feels the worst when you’re trying to sleep, try propping your head up with a few extra pillows.
Laying flat can cause more blood to pool around the affected tooth, causing more swelling and painful throbbing. Elevating your head when you’re lying down can help keep that from happening, and consequently, ease some of your discomfort.
Remember how we said food particles stuck between teeth can sometimes cause pain? Floss is an easy way to potentially dislodge whatever’s in there, which might be all you need to start feeling better. Seriously — give it a try.
Clove essential oil contains a compound called eugenol, a naturally occurring anesthetic. Eugenol can reduce inflammation and ease swelling, and limited evidence has shown that it can ease tooth pain and even promote healing.
But instead of using clove essential oil, try an OTC paste containing eugenol, like Dry Socket Paste. And get the OK from your dentist first.
Applying pure clove essential oil directly to your mouth can potentially damage your gum tissue or tooth pulp — which could set you up for even more pain. And, as always, do a patch test before using any essential oil.
Peppermint’s cooling sensation can exert a temporary numbing effect on painful teeth or gums. Mint, too, is thought to boast antimicrobial properties that could help fight off infections.
The best way to reap the benefits is with a peppermint tea bag, since ingesting peppermint essential oil can potentially be toxic. Hydrate the tea bag in warm water and apply to the affected area, or stick the hydrated tea bag in the freezer to chill it first.
Thyme contains thymol, a compound with antiseptic and antifungal properties that could potentially fight oral infections.
Whether it’s potent enough to ease or get rid of infection-related tooth pain hasn’t been proven, but if you happen to have some thyme essential oil around, it might be worth trying.
Just be sure to use it safely. Add just a drop of thyme essential oil to a glass of water and swish it around your mouth like mouthwash. Don’t apply the stuff directly to your gums and don’t swallow it.
Pro tip: Finding a legit essential oil can turn into a wild-goose chase. Here’s our expert guide to sourcing the highest quality EOs.
Try dabbing a few drops around your affected tooth or gum area and gently massage. Some studies have shown that aloe vera gel has antibacterial properties that could fight germs that lead to painful tooth decay.
Whether it works to ease pain caused by tooth damage that’s already happened isn’t known, but you can certainly give it a try.
If you can stomach it, chew on a clove of raw garlic. Garlic contains allicin, a compound with antimicrobial properties which could potentially kill off germs that are behind your tooth pain.
Crushing the garlic with your teeth helps release some of the allicin, potentially making the garlic more potent.
While it’s perfectly fine to start out soothing tooth pain at home, you should loop your dentist in if the pain is still sticking around after a day or 2.
You should also visit the dentist if the pain is accompanied by a fever, trouble breathing or swallowing, or any signs of infection like swelling, severe pain when you bite down, red gums, or discharge that tastes bad.