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Updated on July 26, 2022

11 Home Remedies for Toothaches and When to See a Doctor

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What Causes a Toothache?

A toothache is pain that occurs in or around a tooth. 

Minor tooth pain often develops due to temporary, mild conditions that respond to home remedies. More serious conditions tend to cause severe toothaches that require medical attention and treatment.

woman in grey shirt touches cheeks with pain discomfort

Common causes of toothache include: 1, 2

  • Tooth decay and cavities
  • An abscessed or infected tooth
  • Impacted teeth
  • Infected teeth roots and nerves
  • Fractured (broken) teeth
  • Split teeth or roots
  • Repetitive motions like grinding the teeth, chewing gum, or clenching the jaw
  • Gum disease or irritation
  • Wisdom tooth development
  • Damaged fillings or dental implants
  • Tooth extraction or removal
  • Sinus infections
  • Trauma or injuries 

11 Fastest Ways to Stop a Toothache at Home

When you have a toothache, it often helps to eat soft foods and avoid intense chewing. If teeth are sensitive, avoid hot and cold foods and drinks, as well as sweets. Elevating the head can also reduce toothaches by reducing blood pressure in blood vessels around the mouth and jaw.4

Other at-home remedies for toothaches and toothache relief include:1, 2

1. Over the Counter (OTC) Pain or Anti-Inflammatory Medications

One of the easiest ways to stop toothache pain is taking OTC pain relievers and/or  anti-inflammatories1. A pain reliever works by blocking pain signals to the brain. Anti-inflammatories work by reducing swelling.

Examples of OTC medications for toothache include:

  • Ibuprofen, such as Motrin or Advil
  • Acetaminophen, such as Tylenol
  • Naproxen, such as Aleve

2. Salt Water Rinse

Using a warm salt water rinse can loosen debris and bacteria between the teeth. It can also help reduce inflammation and work as a disinfectant.

To make a salt water rinse, mix ½ teaspoon of salt into a glass of warm water and swish it around the mouth for a few seconds.1

3. Hydrogen Peroxide Rinse

According to the Cleveland Clinic, rinsing with a solution that is 3% hydrogen peroxide can reduce pain and inflammation.1

To make an at-home rinse, dilute hydrogen peroxide with water in a 1:1 ratio. Never swallow hydrogen peroxide rinses. 

4. Cold or Hot Compresses

To reduce swelling and pain, apply a cold compress, cold pack, or ice pack wrapped in a cloth to the area. Apply ice or cold compresses for 20-minute periods and repeat every couple of hours.1

Try applying a hot pack or heated bag to the affected tooth or gums for throbbing pain. You can make a DIY heating bag by putting rice in a sock, tying off the end, and microwaving it for 1 to 2 minutes.3

5. Garlic

A compound in garlic called allicin can help destroy harmful bacteria and reduce oral discomfort. To use garlic for a toothache, crush a fresh garlic clove into a paste and apply it to the affected area.1

6. Peppermint Tea Bags

Peppermint has soothing and antibacterial properties.1, 7

To use peppermint tea bags for toothaches, put one in warm or boiling water and steep it for a few minutes. Remove the tea bag and let it cool for a few minutes, or place it in the freezer for a couple of seconds. 

Apply the tea bag to the affected area after it has cooled or frozen a bit. It should cause a tingly sensation that provides short-term relief and helps soothe tooth pain.3

7. Clove

Clove contains ingredients that act as a natural disinfectant, reduce inflammation, and numb pain from an aching tooth. The compound eugenol gives clove oil its natural antiseptic.5

Dab a few drops of clove oil onto a clean cotton ball, cotton swab, or Q-tip and apply it to the affected area. You can also add one drop of clove oil into a small glass of water and rinse the mouth with the mixture.1

8. Vanilla Extract

Vanilla extract contains alcohol that can temporarily numb a sore tooth. It also has healing antioxidants.8

Use a clean cotton ball or swab, a Q-tip, or a clean fingertip to apply vanilla extract to the impacted gums and teeth a few times daily.1

9. Thyme

Thyme contains compounds that reduce pain. 

To create a DIY thyme mouth rinse, add a couple of drops of thyme essential oil to a glass of water and swish it in the mouth. If you do this several times, you may feel a numbing sensation.

For a stronger impact, put several drops of thyme essential oil on a clean cotton ball or swab, or a clean fingertip, and apply it to the sore area for 20 to 30 minutes.3

10. Guava

Guava leaves have ingredients that kill bacteria. These leaves also have anti-inflammatory properties that can help heal infections and soothe aching teeth.9

To get relief, try chewing on guava leaves. You can also steep guava leaves in boiling water to create a tea. Once the tea has cooled, you can use it as a mouth rinse.4

11. Wheatgrass

Wheatgrass has numerous medicinal properties that can reduce pain from a toothache. These properties include antimicrobial compounds and antioxidants that reduce inflammation.

Rinse the mouth with wheatgrass juice for a few seconds several times daily to reduce tooth pain.4, 6

When to See Your Dentist for a Toothache

If a toothache doesn’t respond to home remedies, talk to a dentist. 

Also talk to a dentist if a toothache:

  • Is worsening or progressing
  • Lasts longer than 1 to 2 days
  • Feels extremely painful
  • Makes it difficult to sleep, eat, swallow, or speak

It’s also best to talk to a dentist if you experience a toothache that is accompanied by other symptoms like:

  • Fever
  • Bleeding
  • Pain or trouble opening the mouth or biting 
  • Earache
  • Pus or discharge that is discolored or tastes bad
  • A bad taste in the mouth
  • Swelling of the mouth, face, or jaw
  • Red, bleeding, sensitive, or painful gums

Seek emergency dental or medical attention if you experience:

  • Trouble breathing or swallowing
  • High fever
  • Chest pain or discomfort
  • Severe bleeding or swelling

Professional Toothache Treatments 

A dentist or oral hygienist may suggest you increase your oral care habits to help soothe a toothache.

But if medical treatment is necessary, a dentist may:

  • Fill or fix cavities 
  • Remove teeth that are too damaged or infected
  • Perform deep cleanings such as scaling, root planing, or laser treatments
  • Perform a root canal to remove the infected tooth pulp and replace it with sealant material
  • Prescribe oral antibiotics or antibiotic gels 
  • Fix, adjust, or recommend dental devices or implants
  • Drain large swellings to decrease inflammation and infection

A dentist may also recommend using an OTC antiseptic product with benzocaine that can provide temporary relief. You can apply these products directly to the impacted tooth and gum.

Never use more than the recommended amount of benzocaine or give it to children under the age of 2.

Toothache Prevention Tips

The best way to prevent toothaches is to practice good oral hygiene.

This  includes:

  • Brushing the teeth with a soft-bristled toothbrush and fluoride toothpaste for 2-minute intervals at least twice daily
  • Flossing the teeth or using interdental picks or brushes at least once daily
  • Reducing your sugar and alcohol intake
  • Attending regular dental check-ups and cleanings at least twice per year

Summary 

Minor toothaches or tooth pain typically respond to home remedies. 

Talk to a dentist if you don’t feel relief from home remedies, if toothaches last for more than a few days, or if you experience severe symptoms. 

Seek emergency medical care if you have:

  • Chest pain or discomfort
  • Trouble breathing or swallowing
  • A high fever
  • Severe bleeding
  • Sudden, severe pain
9 Sources Cited
Last updated on July 26, 2022
All NewMouth content is medically reviewed and fact-checked by a licensed dentist or orthodontist to ensure the information is factual, current, and relevant.

We have strict sourcing guidelines and only cite from current scientific research, such as scholarly articles, dentistry textbooks, government agencies, and medical journals. This also includes information provided by the American Dental Association (ADA), the American Association of Orthodontics (AAO), and the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP).
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