Whether caused by tooth decay, gum disease, trauma, tooth grinding, an abnormal bite, or simply sensitive teeth, a toothache is one of the most common dental problems there is. And there’s no denying that dental pain can be an incredibly frustrating and unwelcome part of life, especially if it hits in the middle of the night or on the weekend. But take heart—you don’t have to suffer through it alone anymore because we have 12 home remedies for toothaches that will help see you through the pain while you wait to see your dentist.
Best Home Remedies for Toothaches
There are many folk remedies out there that make use of common—and not so common—household items. And, believe it or not, many of these natural remedies have even been proven by science to be effective at providing pain relief and fighting off infection. So read on to discover, in no particular order, our top 12 picks for toothache relief.
1. Ice or Cold Compress
Probably the quickest way to treat a toothache is to head to the freezer for some ice to make a cold compress or ice pack. The application of cold not only constricts blood vessels, which slows blood flow to the affected area, but also helps numb pain and reduce swelling. To reduce toothache pain, simply apply an ice pack (or bag of frozen peas) or cloth dipped in ice water and then apply it to the jaw in the area of pain. Do this for several minutes at a time and repeat throughout the day as necessary.
2. Hydrogen Peroxide Rinse
Hydrogen peroxide is a first aid remedy a lot of people keep stocked in their medicine cabinets for treating cuts, but did you know its antibacterial and pain-relieving properties are also helpful for easing a toothache? To use this method, simply rinse your mouth thoroughly with 3% hydrogen peroxide and spit, and then rinse your mouth several times with water. This process can be repeated throughout the day as needed.
3. Salt Water Rinse
The use of salt as medicine goes back thousands of years. In fact, the ancient Egyptians and Greeks used it as a natural disinfectant and anti-inflammatory. The use of salt water for oral health is also well respected and is known to promote healing and increase mouth pH, creating an alkaline environment that makes it difficult for bacteria to survive. To use this solution for an aching tooth, dissolve a teaspoon of salt in a glass of warm water, swish the mixture around in your mouth for a minimum of 30 seconds, and then spit it out. This can be done several times a day as needed.
4. Black Seed Oil
Like salt, black seed, or Nigella sativa, was also revered by the ancient Egyptians and Greeks for its medicinal properties. And modern science has begun to verify what the ancients knew. In fact, the oil has been found to have anti-inflammatory, antioxidant, antihistaminic, antimicrobial, analgesic, and immune-modulating effects. A recent study also demonstrated that black seed is effective for a wide range of dental problems. To use the oil for a toothache, apply a small amount directly to the affected tooth and gum or mix a teaspoon of the oil in a glass of warm water for use as a mouth rinse twice a day.
5. Essential Oils
The use of essential oils—which are not really oils at all, but rather hydrophobic mixtures of various volatile aromatic compounds—for the purposes of healing goes back at least 2,500 years. Science has confirmed that many essential oils do indeed have antibacterial, analgesic, and anti-inflammatory properties. And a number of these, including oregano, peppermint, tea tree, eucalyptus, myrrh, cinnamon, and clove, are also known for their benefits to oral health.
All of these oils can be used alone or mixed and matched and applied directly to the tooth or used as a dental rinse to kill bacteria and provide relief of pain. Just remember that essential oils are extremely potent and shouldn’t be used without first diluting them in oil or water. Adding one or two drops to a carrier like neem oil—which also has antibacterial properties—and applying directly to the affected tooth or diluting several drops in a glass of water for use as a mouth rinse a couple of times a day can even stop a tooth abscess in its tracks.
6. Ginger Root
You may never have thought of ginger root as something that could cure a toothache, but this spicy culinary wonder has also been shown to possess anti-inflammatory and broad antibacterial properties—including against strains of bacteria linked to gum disease. Biting down on a fresh piece of ginger root or applying a paste of the powdered root mixed with water directly to the tooth can provide instant relief. Ginger root can also be reapplied as often as needed.
While turmeric has become well known for its anti-inflammatory properties, many people may not be aware that its active ingredient, curcumin, also makes this spice great for a toothache. In fact, turmeric has many antiseptic, anti-inflammatory, and antibacterial properties. One study even found that it was as effective as chlorhexidine in killing oral bacteria. To help a toothache, make a paste using a teaspoon of turmeric powder and a small amount of water and apply directly to the affected tooth as often as needed.
8. Tea Compress
Black tea contains astringent tannins, which can help reduce the inflammation and pain associated with a toothache. To use this method, soak a tea bag in warm water for 15 to 30 seconds, squeeze out the excess fluid, and place the tea bag against the affected tooth. Keep the tea bag pressed against your tooth until it cools, and then discard. This technique can be used once or twice a day as needed.
Asafetida, or Ferula asafoetida, is a spice widely used in Ayurvedic medicine, though it hasn’t quite taken hold in the West. But that might change soon, as this is a remarkable plant with a remarkable range of functions. However, its antimicrobial, anti-inflammatory, and analgesic properties make it especially effective against dental infections. Placing a cotton ball soaked in a pinch of asafetida combined with a tablespoon of lemon juice can alleviate pain almost instantly. This remedy can also be used several times throughout the day.
Garlic is another plant that’s been used for thousands of years as both food and medicine. And modern science has shown that the ancients again knew what they were talking about. That’s because garlic contains allicin, a substance with both antibacterial and antiviral properties that has even shown activity against methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA). To put this powerful bulb to work for a toothache, simply crush a garlic clove and place it against the affected tooth. You can also make a paste of crushed garlic and sea salt and apply it to the tooth once or twice a day.
Preparing this toothache treatment may make your eyes water, but onions possess both antiseptic and antibacterial properties that can put a stop to toothache pain. For a quick home toothache remedy, either slice or crush some raw onion and place it directly against the affected area for up to 5 minutes. Like garlic, this treatment can be repeated once or twice a day.
12. Vanilla Extract
Believe it or not, along with being an indispensable ingredient in your homemade cookies, vanilla extract can be surprisingly effective at providing temporary relief of toothache pain. That’s because this essential flavoring in many baked goods has both antiseptic and analgesic properties. Simply apply two or three drops of pure vanilla extract to a cotton swab and hold it against the affected tooth as long as needed and repeat as necessary. Other extracts, including lemon, almond, and peppermint, can be used as well.
While toothache relief can be achieved at home with many over-the-counter products, a toothache can also be a symptom of something more serious. If you experience pain that lasts more than a few hours or gets worse, don’t hesitate to make an appointment to see your dentist right away.