If a toothache strikes when you can't see your dentist – like in the middle of the night – you may feel desperate to relieve the pain. For temporary relief, consider trying one of these homemade toothache remedies.
1. Cold Compresses
If your toothache is associated with swelling, holding a cold compress against the outside of your cheek (20 minutes on, then 20 minutes off) may provide some relief. Cold helps numb the area, which can relieve tooth pain; it also helps reduce swelling and inflammation, explains Johns Hopkins Medicine .
Cold compresses may offer temporary relief and help you fall back asleep, but they won't address the root cause of your toothache. If you have a cavity or another dental problem, it won't get better until you see your dentist.
2. Clove Oil
Clove oil can be used to temporarily reduce pain and swelling associated with a toothache. For this homemade toothache remedy, dip a cotton ball in clove oil and soak up a few drops. Gently rub the cotton ball over the sore area of your tooth and gums.
Clove oil contains eugenol, a natural anesthetic, which is why this remedy works. However, clove oil only helps with the pain of your toothache; it won't cure the underlying problem. Clove oil also tastes bad, so this remedy may be unpleasant to try.
3. Salt Water Rinses
If your tooth hurts and your gums are swollen, rinsing your mouth with warm, salt water may offer some relief. Add a couple teaspoons of salt to a cup of warm water. Swish the mixture around your mouth and then spit it out.
While both hot and cold water can be uncomfortable when you have a toothache, warm water is soothing. The warm water helps ease the pain, and the salt helps to reduce the swelling in your gum tissue. Again, these effects are only temporary.
4. Tooth Pain Medications
To cope with the pain of a toothache, you can take over-the-counter pain medications according to the package directions. It's important that you don't hold the medication against your sore tooth since this can burn the nearby gum tissue and lead to further discomfort.
Pain medications can keep you comfortable while you're waiting for your dentist appointment, but like other home remedies, they're not a long-term solution. If you medicate your pain and don't seek treatment, your tooth could get worse.
When to See a Dentist
The American Dental Association recommends having your toothache evaluated immediately by a dentist, so make an appointment right away. Dentists often leave time slots available for emergency patients, so you may be able to get a same-day appointment. If you have any symptoms of a tooth abscess – like a fever, facial swelling or incessant pain in your tooth – and can't be seen by your dentist, visit the emergency room for treatment.
While several dental conditions can cause toothaches, cavities are the most likely cause. Fortunately, there are many things you can do at home to protect your teeth from cavities. Brush your teeth twice per day and remember to floss once per day. It's also important to visit your dentist regularly for checkups. If you develop a cavity, it can be detected and treated before it gives you a painful toothache.
Homemade toothache remedies can keep you comfortable while you wait for your dentist appointment, but they don't get to the root of the problem.