Home Remedies for a Toothache: When to See a Dentist & What to Do

Published April 26th, 2022 by Erik Rivera
Fact Checked by
Chris Riley

A toothache is one of the most common dental problems and if you have a toothache, the first thing you need to do is determine whether or not it is serious.

There are many home remedies and sometimes they can help alleviate the pain of a toothache; however, if it is serious then you will need to see your dentist.

In this article, we will discuss home remedies for toothaches as well as when to see your dentist about your tooth pain.

What are the causes of toothaches?

There are many potential causes of toothaches.

Tooth decay, gum disease, a cracked tooth, impacted teeth, and abscesses are all common culprits.

home remedy for a toothache image

In some cases, a sinus infection can also cause tooth pain along with other health problems.

If you have a toothache, it's important to determine the underlying cause.

Once the cause is determined, you and your dentist can develop a treatment plan but in the meantime, there are some home remedies that can help ease the pain of a toothache that we will detail below.

When do I need to see a dentist about a toothache?

As a rule of thumb, if you have slight discomfort from a toothache then you need to see your dentist if it gets worse or lasts for more than a couple of days.

If home remedies don't help or if you have severe dental pain, it's important to see your dentist as soon as possible. In some cases, toothaches can be indicative of serious health problems.

For example, jaw pain that is accompanied by a headache, fever, and swelling could be a sign of an infection.

See your dentist or health care provider immediately if you have any of the following symptoms:

  • Fever
  • Difficulty breathing
  • Difficulty swallowing
  • Pain in your jaw accompanied by a clicking noise which is indicative of temporomandibular joint disorder (TMJ)
  • Discharge or pus
  • Swelling
  • Pain when you bite down
  • Extremely red gums

If you have any concerns about your toothache, it's always best to consult with a dental professional.

What home remedies can I use for a toothache?

There are several home remedies that you can try to ease the pain of a toothache for temporary relief, although it is advised to talk to your dentist or healthcare professional first before trying any of them.

Some of the most common home remedies that are used to treat toothaches include:

Salt water rinse

A warm salt water rinse can help to cleanse your mouth and reduce inflammation.

To use a salt water rinse, mix one teaspoon of salt in a warm cup of water and rinse your mouth for 30 seconds.

Hydrogen peroxide rinse

Hydrogen peroxide is an antiseptic that can help to kill bacteria in your mouth.

A hydrogen peroxide rinse consists of equal parts of 3% hydrogen peroxide with plain water and use the solution to rinse your mouth for 30 seconds.

Ice or cold compress

Applying ice in a towel, ice pack, or cold compress to your cheek can help to numb the dental pain and reduce inflammation.

If you want to use ice or an ice pack, wrap a cloth around some ice cubes, icepack, or put a bag of frozen peas in a towel and apply it to your cheek for 15 minutes remembering to alternate the compress, ice, or ice pack between 15 minutes on followed by 15 minutes off of the affected area.

Garlic

Garlic has antibacterial and analgesic properties that can help to fight infection and reduce pain.

If you want to use this method simply cut a clove of garlic in half and rub it on the affected tooth for five minutes or you can chew a garlic clove or apply it as a poultice to the affected area.

Please do not apply garlic directly to your skin on your face or leave it in your mouth for long periods of time as this can create more complications like ulcers.

Cloves or clove oil

Cloves have been used for centuries as a home remedy for toothaches because they contain eugenol which has both anesthetic and antibacterial properties.

To use this home remedy, you will need to put clove oil on a cotton swab and apply it directly to the affected area several times a day.

There is another option too of putting a few drops of clove oil in a glass of water and using it as a rinse.

Peppermint tea bags

Peppermint tea bags can help to soothe a toothache by numbing the pain.

Due to the sensitive teeth of the area in pain, you will not want to use a hot tea bag so you will want to wet a peppermint tea bag in warm water and apply it directly to the affected area.

Over-the-counter pain relievers

If home remedies don't seem to be helping, you can try an over-the-counter pain reliever like ibuprofen, which is the active ingredient in Advil, or acetaminophen, which is the active ingredient in Tylenol.

Be sure to follow the instructions on the package of any over-the-counter medication and never take more medication than recommended.

Over-the-counter anesthetics

If home remedies and over-the-counter painkillers don't seem to be working, you can try an over-the-counter local anesthetic like Orajel or Anbesol which have numbing properties.

As with any medication, follow the instructions on the package and never use more than directed.

Guava leaves

Guava leaves have anti-inflammatory and analgesic properties that can help to reduce pain and swelling.

To be effective, guava leaves will need to be ground up and applied directly to the affected tooth or gum.

You can also make a guava leaf tea by boiling some water and adding in a few guava leaves.

Let the tea cool and then swish it around your mouth before spitting it out.

Thyme oil

Thyme essential oil has antiseptic and antibacterial properties that can help to fight infection and reduce pain.

To use this home remedy, you will need to add a few drops of thyme oil to a cotton ball and apply it directly to the affected area.

You can also add a few drops of thyme oil to a glass of water to make a mouthwash.

Wheatgrass

Wheatgrass has anti-inflammatory properties that can help to reduce pain and swelling.

You will need to make a wheatgrass juice or smoothie to use this method and drink it several times a day or use it as a rinse.

Vanilla extract

Vanilla extract contains alcohol and chemicals that can help to numb the pain and you will need to soak a cotton ball in vanilla extract and apply it directly to the affected area for best results.

Toothache plant

The toothache plant is a flowering plant that has been used for centuries to treat toothaches. The plant contains a chemical called spilanthol which numbs the pain.

Chewing on the plant is the best way to utilize this remedy.

Is there scientific research to prove these remedies work?

There is limited scientific research on home remedies for relief from tooth pain.

However, some home remedies like cloves, peppermint tea bags, and vanilla extract have been studied and shown to be effective at reducing pain although always talk to your dentist or doctor before trying any home remedy.

What are my treatment options when I see my dentist?

Your dentist will likely recommend one of the following treatments for your toothache:

Dental fillings

A dental filling can be used to dental care treatments to treat a tooth that has been damaged by tooth decay, which can turn into a cavity. The filling material is used to restore the tooth back to its original shape and size.

Root canal

A root canal is a treatment that is used to save a sore tooth that has been damaged by infection. The infected tissue is removed from the sore tooth and the tooth is sealed.

Extraction

A tooth extraction is a treatment that involves removing the damaged, painful tooth and is usually only done as a last resort if other treatments are not effective.

Antibiotics

If your toothache is caused by an infection, your dentist may prescribe antibiotics to help clear the infection.

Replacing a filling

Sometimes a filling you already have from prior dental decay can come loose and cause a toothache. In this case, you will need to have the filling replaced by your dentist.

Mouthguard

If you have a toothache because you are clenching or grinding your teeth, your dentist may recommend that you wear a mouthguard at night to protect your teeth.

Summary

If you have a toothache, there are a few home toothache remedies that you can try to provider short-term relief ranging from over-the-counter painkillers or anesthetics to garlic, clove, and thyme oils among many others.

If the home remedies don't work after a couple of days or if the toothache pain is severe, you need to see your dentist for treatment.

Depending on the cause of the pain, treatment options for a toothache include dental fillings, root canals, extractions, antibiotics, and replacing a filling.

You also need to see your dentist if you have a toothache that is caused by clenching or grinding your teeth so that they can recommend a mouthguard.

Never try a home remedy without consulting your dentist first and if you have any more questions about remedies for toothaches, please talk to your dentist, doctor, or health care provider to decide your best treatment option.

References and Sources:

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK493149/

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4916793/

https://doi.org/10.1308/205016814812136057

https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/19057745-garlic-burn-as-self-inflicted-mucosal-injury-a-case-report-and-review-of-the-literature/

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