11 Home Remedies for a Toothache

Cavities, loose fillings, a cracked tooth, an abscess (a pocket of infection at the gum line), or a sinus condition can all bring on the dreaded toothache pain. Until you can see the dentist, these home remedies can provide toothache relief.

View as Slideshow


Clove oil to the rescue!

Clove oil to the rescue! iStock/Thinkstock
Cloves are a traditional remedy for numbing nerves; the primary chemical compound of this spice is eugenol, a natural anesthetic. But clove oil needs to be used carefully. Pouring the oil on the aching area can actually worsen the pain if you get it on sensitive gum tissue or on your tongue. Instead, put two drops of clove oil on a cotton ball and place it against the tooth itself until the pain recedes. In a pinch, use a bit of powdered clove or place a whole clove on the tooth. Chew the whole clove a little to release its oil and keep it in place up to half an hour or until the pain subsides.

Make a ginger-cayenne paste

Make a ginger-cayenne pasteiStock/Thinkstock
Mix equal parts of these two heat-packing spices with enough water to make a paste. Roll a small ball of cotton into enough paste to saturate it, then place it on your tooth while avoiding your gums and tongue. Leave it until the pain fades—or as long as you can stand it (the concoction is likely to burn). You can also try these spices separately, as both are potent painkillers. The main chemical component of cayenne—capsaicin—has been found to help block pain messages from reaching the brain.

Swish some salt water

Swish some salt wateriStock/Thinkstock
A teaspoon of salt dissolved in a cup of boiling water makes a pain-killing mouthwash, which will clean away irritating debris and help reduce swelling. Swish it around for about 30 seconds before spitting it out. Salt water cleanses the area around the tooth and draws out some of the fluid that causes swelling. Repeat this treatment as often as needed.

Soothe with tea

Soothe with teaiStock/Thinkstock
Peppermint tea has a nice flavor and some numbing power. Put 1 teaspoon dried peppermint leaves in 1 cup boiling water and steep for 20 minutes. After the tea cools, swish it around in your mouth, then spit it out or swallow. Also, the astringent tannins in strong black tea may help quell pain by reducing swelling. For this folk remedy place a warm, wet tea bag against the affected tooth for temporary relief.

Rinse with hydrogen peroxide

Rinse with hydrogen peroxideiStock/Thinkstock
To help kill bacteria and relieve some discomfort, swish with a mouthful of 3% hydrogen peroxide solution. This can provide temporary relief if the toothache is accompanied by fever and a foul taste in the mouth (both are signs of infection), but like other toothache remedies, it’s only a stopgap measure until you see your dentist and get the source of infection cleared up. A hydrogen peroxide solution is only for rinsing. Spit it out, then rinse several times with plain water.

Ice it

Ice itiStock/Thinkstock
Place a small ice cube in a plastic bag, wrap a thin cloth around the bag, and apply it to the aching tooth for about 15 minutes to numb the nerves. Alternatively, that ice pack can go on your cheek, over the painful tooth. Also, according to folklore, if you massage your hand with an ice cube, you can help relieve a toothache. When nerves in your fingers send "cold" signals to your brain, they may override the pain signals coming from your tooth. Just wrap up an ice cube in a thin cloth and massage it in the fleshy area between your thumb and forefinger.

Wash it with myrrh

Wash it with myrrhNina Aldin Thune via commons.wikimedia.org
You can also rinse with a tincture of myrrh. The astringent effects help with inflammation, and myrrh offers the added benefit of killing bacteria. Simmer 1 teaspoon of powdered myrrh in 2 cups water for 30 minutes. Strain and let cool. Rinse with 1 teaspoon of the solution in a half-cup water five to six times a day.

Distract with vinegar and brown paper

Distract with vinegar and brown paperiStock/Thinkstock
Another country cure calls for soaking a small piece of brown paper (from a grocery or lunch bag) in vinegar, sprinkling one side with black pepper, and holding this to the cheek. The warm sensation on your cheek may distract you from your tooth pain.

Brush with the right tools

Brush with the right tools
Use a toothpaste that's designated “for sensitive teeth.” If you have a problem with shrinking gums, this could relieve a lot of the pain you probably experience from hot or cold foods. When gums shrink, the dentin beneath your teeth's enamel surface is exposed, and this material is particularly sensitive. Switch to the softest-bristled brush you can find to help preserve gum tissue and prevent further shrinking.

Cover a crack with gum

Cover a crack with gum
If you've broken a tooth or have lost a filling, you can relieve some pain by covering the exposed area with softened chewing gum. This might work with a loose filling, too, to hold it in place until you can get to the dentist. To avoid further discomfort, avoid chewing anything with that tooth until you can have it repaired.

Apply pressure

Apply pressure iStockphoto/Thinkstock
Try an acupressure technique to stop tooth pain fast. With your thumb, press the point on the back of your other hand where the base of your thumb and your index finger meet. Apply pressure for about two minutes. This helps trigger the release of endorphins, the brain's feel-good hormones. (Off-limits...if you're pregnant.)

Want to stay smart and healthy?

Get our weekly Health Reads newsletter

how we use your e-mail

Some people like to travel by train because 
it combines the slowness of a car with the cramped public exposure of 
an airplane.

Dennis Miller

I think my pilot was a little inexperienced. We were sitting on the runway, and he said, “OK, folks, we’re gonna be taking off in a just few—whoa! Here we go.”

Kevin Nealon

“I can’t wait until your vacation is over.” 
—Everyone following you on Instagram


A man knocked on my door and asked for a donation toward the local swimming pool. So I gave him a glass of water.

Comedian Greg Davies

Funny Jokes

Just found the worst page in the entire dictionary. What I saw was disgraceful, disgusting, dishonest, and disingenuous.


Funny Jokes

Client: We need you to log in to the YouTube and make all our company videos viral.

From clientsfromhell.net

Funny Jokes

My cat just walked up to the paper shredder and said, “Teach me 
everything you know.”


Funny Jokes

“Just because you can’t dance doesn’t mean you shouldn’t dance.” 

@yoyoha (Josh Hara)

Funny Jokes

My parents didn’t want to move to Florida, but they turned 60 and that’s the law.

—Jerry Seinfeld

Funny Jokes

Q: What do you call an Amish guy with his hand in a horse’s mouth?

A: A mechanic.