If there’s one list to keep handy–this is the one. It never fails that a major toothache hits when it’s late at night and the dentist’s office is closed. Although only a doctor can definitively determine and cure the source of the problem, the following list of treatments & pain relief remedies should get you through the night until a professional can be visited.
I have plenty of helpful items listed, most are everyday, commonplace ingredients so there’s sure to be at least one or two in the pantry or spice cabinet available to be utilized immediately.
Important: Whether you are experiencing dull discomfort or a severe ache, there is a reason for it and it’s best to have it taken care of by a dentist as soon as possible. If it’s infected (gum area is swollen and/or face feels hot), don’t delay in getting professional medical care. These tips are merely intended to assist a person trying to get through a short period (day or two) until a professional can check things out.
Directions: Apply selected treatment directly to both the problematic tooth and surrounding sore gums unless otherwise directed.
Items instructed to chew or liquids to be swooshed around inside mouth, do so with the sore tooth and focus on surrounding area.
Take Care: Do not swallow liquids, spit out when done.
Master List of Home Remedies
- Salt Solution: Mix a heaping spoonful of salt in a small glass of water, swoosh around for as long as possible, spit out. Repeat at least twice.
- Cloves: An old timer’s remedy, rest a clove against the sore tooth until agony dissipates. Alternative: A drop or two of clove oil (careful, too much may be toxic) or make a thick paste of ground cloves and water or ground cloves and olive oil.
- Alcohol: Swoosh a bit of whiskey, scotch, brandy or vodka. A strong mouthwash containing alcohol can do the trick too.
- Hydrogen Peroxide: Swoosh a bit of hydrogen peroxide. If the taste is too horrid, try diluting by adding a titch of water.
- Vanilla Extract: Saturate a cotton ball, hold in place. May also use a cotton swab dipped in extract.
- Almond Extract: Same method of treatment as with Vanilla (above).
- Peppermint Extract: Same as with Vanilla (above).
- Lemon Extract: Same as with Vanilla (above).
- Tea Tree Oil: Just a drop or two is all that’s needed. Also add some to a cotton swab and hold in place or add a few drops of tea tree to a small glass of water and swoosh around.
- Oil Of Oregano: Combine a few drops with olive oil (or water if preferred) and use to saturate a cotton ball.
- Apple Cider Vinegar: Soak a cotton ball and keep in place. Regular household vinegar works too.
- Ginger Root: Take a fresh chunk of ginger and carefully chew a bit (remember to focus on the sore tooth).
- Garlic: Take a clove of garlic, smash it and apply (settle inside cheek). Alternative: Mix in some salt.
- Peppermint Leaves: Chew on fresh peppermint leaves. Also try dried, just keep them in place.
- Potato: Cut a raw chunk of potato (skin off) and hold in place. Can also pound a piece of raw potato, mix in a pinch of salt and use the mash.
- Lime: Cut a slice or wedge of lime and apply, bite into it if possible to release some of the juice. Sensitive to cold? First bring the lime to room temperature if it was refrigerated.
- Onion: Slice a piece of raw onion and tuck inside cheek. The onion needs to be freshly cut (so it provides a bit of onion juice).
- Cucumber: Slice a piece of cucumber and hold over the sore area. If refrigerated, bring the cucumber to room temperature first (if sensitive to cold) otherwise a cool piece may be soothing. You may also incorporate a pinch of salt.
- Plantain: Chew up a fresh plantain leaf. If too sore to chew, switch to the other side of mouth. Once the leaf is macerated a bit apply to the troubled area and hold in place.
- Cayenne Pepper: Make a paste with cayenne pepper and water, use mixture to pack the area (including gum).
- Black Pepper: Use full strength or make a mix of pepper and salt.
- Baking Soda: Take a cotton swab and moisten with water, dip in baking soda (coat the swab really well with baking soda) then apply. Alternative: Make a rinse/solution by mixing a heaping spoonful of baking soda in a small glass of water, dissolve the soda then swish the mixture.
- Tea: Make a fresh cup of tea then take the used tea bag and tuck inside cheek. Careful not to tear the bag. The tannins naturally found in tea leaves can aid in numbing things.
- Ice Pack: Cover an ice pack with a face cloth or towel then settle over cheek where the problem is. Will help numb things. If that doesn’t work, do the opposite–a hot compress (not too hot that skin is burned).
- If the discomfort is unbearable and there’s no dental office open, call the local hospital’s emergency room–chances are they have a dentist on call (for a fee).
- Try gently brushing teeth and flossing–this might bring some relief.
- If the side of the face is in anguish and it feels like you’re going to lose your mind (I’ve been there)–it could be a sinus infection or an allergy affecting sinuses rather than a dental issue (even though it definitely feels like it). Try a Herbal Decongestant Steam to break up sinuses, this might relieve things enough until getting to a doctor. Chances are a prescription for penicillin is what’s needed to clear up the infection.
Something I found that worked in the above, very painful, severe situation the last time it happened to me (I’ve had three occurrences so far):
- Swoosh cool or room temperature water in mouth where the trouble is. Keep the liquid there as long as possible.
- Once the throbbing starts again, spit out and replenish with a fresh mouthful of fluid.
- Spit out and repeat as often as necessary.
I had to do this for about 4 hours straight one night until the dental office opened in the morning. The hurt was an unbearable, unspeakable, nerve pain. This was the only thing preserving my sanity, giving immediate and fast relief–unfortunately it lasts for only moments at a time. I ended up having a molar pulled but only after a round of antibiotics and a few days taking prescription pain killers. I’m not actually clear on what the problem was in that particular case, I think it was an abscess…I was in serious distress at the time and couldn’t see my usual dentist but I’m confident in the care I received.
What’s In My Medicine Cabinet: I now stock a box each of Extra Strength Anbesol (topical Anesthetic) and Maximum Strength Orajel in the medicine cabinet at all times. The brands aren’t what matters, both have 20% Benzocaine Gel and I found the ingredient helps dull this type of extreme nerve pain in the beginning stages before it blows up and you have to keep water in your mouth the entire time. It would also help relieve discomfort from an abscess in the advanced stages. If it’s 3 AM and nothing on the home remedies list above will work, running to a 24 HR Pharmacy is *well worth the effort* to go out driving to pick this up. They merely provide temporary relief, but there’s something about dental pain that is so intense and causes such severe distress that anything even minimally removing or easing the ache just a little bit is welcome.
I hope this information is beneficial and a quick cure is discovered that works to bring the discomfort to a halt, but please don’t ignore the issue and get to a dentist as soon as possible. Home remedies can help through the night, but problematic teeth and gums only get worse if ignored. Good luck!
Note: These are simply notes I have collected, they are not professional medical advice.
**Updated: Removed aspirin tips in case the warnings weren’t clear enough for some, better to be safe than sorry!