Handle Severe Dental Pain at Home — Until You Get to the Dentist

Handle Severe Dental Pain at Home — Until You Get to the Dentist


Having a toothache can be one of the most excruciating types of dental pain that a person can ever experience (right next to earaches!) If you’re in pain and don’t have a dentist or your dental office is closed, you may be wondering what you should do to take the edge off the “jolt” running through your mouth.

Here are a few tips to try, until you can make your way to the dentist’s office:

Alternate Moist Heat and a Cold Compress

If you have swelling, alternating moist hot and cold heat can relieve the discomfort while also reducing the inflammation. Apply the compress to the side of your face for about twenty minutes and then substitute it with the opposite temperature.

Rinse With Warm Salt Water

Swelling is often the cause of dental pain. Whether it’s inflammation of the nerve inside of the tooth or because of infection in the gums surrounding it, even a small amount of swelling can be very uncomfortable. Salt water can help to “draw” out the inflammation inside of soft tissues like your gums. Mix a couple of teaspoons of salt in a tall glass of warm tap water. Rinse with it for several seconds, spit it out, and repeat the process until you’ve used up the entire glass.

Choose the Right Medication

Over the counter pain medication is not all created equal. You may have one that you like to take when you throw your back out or have a headache, but be careful about the one you choose for a toothache. Again, most dental pain is associated with inflammation. Take an anti-inflammatory such as ibuprofen (as long as your doctor doesn’t mind) as directed. It’s usually all you need to get by until your scheduled appointment.

Floss or Use a Toothpick

Sometimes we can get food lodged under the gums or between the teeth in a way that it hurts. It may be something as simple as a popcorn kernel or a piece of steak. Wrap your floss tight around the tooth in a “c” shape and slide it up and down under the gums several times. You may even want to tie a couple of knots in the floss and then drag it through from one side to the other, to pull out whatever debris is lodged inside of the “pocket” under your gums.

Use Clove Oil or Place a Clove Next to Your Tooth

You never want to put aspirin next to your tooth to dull the pain. The technique can actually cause chemical burns on your gums! But, it is very safe to use clove oil. Place a few drops on a cotton ball and hold it next to your hurting tooth. Some people like to dilute it by adding a few drops of olive oil. Clove oil is a natural pain reliever. If you don’t have any, you can use whole cloves instead…it’s just not as convenient or comfortable.

Don’t Wait it Out

Dental emergencies are bad about popping up when you’re the least prepared. Friday nights, Sunday mornings…or when you’re out of town on a business trip.

If you don’t have dental insurance, you may be trying to ward off the pain on your own, hoping that it will just go away. Here’s the bad news: tooth pain means there’s a bigger problem going on…it won’t simply fade away without ever coming back. While you may feel better temporarily, it doesn’t mean your cavity, abscess, or broken tooth will simply “heal itself.” You need the help of a great, affordable dentist before that little toothache becomes a series of multiple complex procedures to restore your smile.

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