Are you suffering from a toothache?

It feels like a truck is trying to drive through your sinuses. From a dull ache that can’t be ignored to a sharp ache that causes a headache, tooth pain hurts like no other.

Tooth pain is its own special category of pain and when people want relief, they want it fast. A few dental practices offer emergency visits (thankfully, we do), but even the drive-in can be off-putting if you’re head is throbbing with pain. 

So what can you do?

First, you call your dentist and schedule an appointment. Tooth pain is a megaphone that something is wrong, whether it’s pain from a cavity or pain from an exposed root or pulp. At Triangle Family Dental, we accept emergency appointments and we can even diagnose and (in many cases) treat the cause of your tooth pain the same day. 

Contrary to social media memes and internet lore, you can’t heal tooth decay with cloves or other home remedies for tooth pain —they can only bring temporary relief. The internet abounds with “tooth decay cures” and many dentists have had to diagnose a tooth gone bad that could have been treated earlier on in the process (saving more tooth and costing less of the patient’s money), if the patient hadn’t believed they could cure a toothache with garlic or tea tree oil.

So don’t try to be your own dentist. But do try to get some temporary relief while you wait. 

After making an appointment (emergency or otherwise), here are 10 ways to get tooth pain relief at home.

1. Use OTC (over-the-counter) pain relief.  

Using OTC pain relief like Motrin or Advil (ibuprofen) or Tylenol (acetaminophen) is much safer than applying various topical concoctions, especially to an exposed nerve. 

Make sure you check the drug facts for interactions with any other drugs you are currently taking. Avoid aspirin for tooth pain—aspirin can cause blood clotting later on if you should happen to need a root canal.

2. Clove oil can bring temporary relief. 

This one has been around for centuries and we put it here for those patients who need to avoid drugs. You can also use it in combination with other drugs as it is not a drug. 

Hold cotton soaked in clove oil on the affected area for 10 seconds, or leave a little bit of clove-oil-soaked-cotton on your tooth. 

Be careful not to swallow any of the clove oil.

3. Don’t put aspirin directly on the tooth.

Some people have learned this the hard way. Aspirin is an acid and will burn your gum tissue (or any exposed pulp—ouch!). You don’t want to cause damage to the soft tissue, so stay away from this home remedy. 

Dissolved aspirin is more helpful for things like canker sores, not toothaches, as long as it is well diluted. This is because you’re not dealing with the potential for exposed tooth pulp. Even then, prolonged contact or repeat use can burn your gums.

4. Avoid painful foods.

Avoid hard foods like nuts and peanut brittle while you wait for medical relief from your toothache. Avoid spicy or very hot or cold foods as well. They can cause a lot of pain! 

A diet of smoothies and therapeutic teas can be very helpful while you wait to see your dentist. What kind of teas?

5. Drink peppermint tea and black tea.

The main helpful ingredient is menthol, which has antibacterial and numbing properties. Peppermint tea can be purchased at the grocery store or drug store. Some people put the tea bag on the affected area as well.

You can also use the astringent tannins in black tea to bring relief. After making a strong cup of black tea, gently press the teabag against the affected area. 

6. Try thyme oil or thyme tea.

One drop of thyme oil in a glass of water can make a rinse. It has antifungal and antibacterial properties. Thyme tea can also work and can be purchased in many health food and grocery stores.

7. Swish some salt water.

Salt water is a mild, safe, and cleansing form of relief. The mildly sanitizing properties of salt might help get rid of bacteria that are causing irritation to your nerves and gums. It also draws out fluid that can cause swelling. Dissolve a teaspoon in a cup of warm water and swish for 30 seconds. You can repeat this throughout the day.

8. Ice reduces inflammation.

Ice is one of the commonly used at-home remedies for tooth pain that reduces inflammation. It numbs. It’s a classic pain-reliever and it’s also perfectly safe! Use an ice pack or cold pack and apply pressure to the outside of your jaw against the area where you are experiencing pain. 

9. Protect temporarily with Dentemp.

Dentemp is a dentist-recommended way to temporarily repair lost fillings and loose caps. Not recommended if you haven’t lost a filling or cap. Do not use this if throbbing pain or unusual swelling is present. You can find this at CVS.

10. Sleep with your head elevated.

Sleep. If you can get enough pain-relief to sleep until you see your dentist, do so. Sleeping with an elevated head eases some of the pressure on the nerves, as it reduces the inflammation, causing the swelling to go down and the pressure to decrease. 

We hope these remedies for tooth pain bring you some relief while you wait for your dentist to see you. Also, if you’re in the Amherst area, give us a call right away. We don’t want you to have to deal with tooth pain for one second longer than you absolutely need to.