Conditions,  Health

Easing Toothache: Top 10 Effective Pain Relief Strategies for Tooth Pain

Ever been kept awake by a throbbing tooth or found yourself wincing at the cold touch of ice cream? Toothaches, ranging from mild discomfort to severe pain, are a common issue that many people deal with. But don’t worry, we’ve got a roadmap to guide you through the landscape of toothache pain relief.

Key Takeaways

  • Understanding toothaches involves identifying the cause and seeking professional care.
  • Over-the-counter medications, cold compresses, elevating the head at night, numbing gels/ointments & rinsing techniques can provide temporary relief from pain.
  • Good oral hygiene & seeing a dentist are recommended for prevention & treatment of continuous toothache.

Understanding Toothaches

Toothaches are a result of irritation to the nerve in the root of a tooth or the surrounding area, often due to tooth decay. The causes are numerous and can include:

  • Dental decay
  • Tooth fracture
  • Periodontal disease
  • Teeth grinding
  • Referred pain from other parts of the body

When that troublesome sore tooth strikes, a comprehensive medical history and oral examination are typically the first steps in diagnosis. Sometimes, X-rays or panoramic views of your teeth and jaw might be necessary, and in some cases, the cause could be non-dental, like a sinus infection.

Seeking care from a dentist for persistent toothaches is necessary. The dentist may provide follow-up care or administer a local anesthetic around the affected tooth for pain management. Remember, dental pain resulting from issues such as:

  • infection
  • decay
  • injury
  • tooth loss

typically necessitates professional intervention.

Toothache Pain Relief: Over-the-Counter Medications

Imagine you’re dealing with an aching tooth in the middle of the night or over a weekend when your dentist’s office is closed. Over-the-counter medications like NSAIDs (Non-Steroidal Anti-Inflammatory Drugs) such as acetaminophen and ibuprofen can be a lifesaver, providing effective relief for toothache pain.

These medications are frequently advised as the primary treatment for alleviating dental pain, thanks to their efficacy. However, you should adhere to the packaging instructions or consult a healthcare professional to determine the suitable dosage for your specific circumstances. A common dosage range for ibuprofen, for instance, is 400-800 mg every 6 hours.

Cold Compress for Swelling Reduction

Another effective strategy to relieve pain, especially for toothache, is the use of a cold compress. Cold compresses can help manage toothache pain and swelling by constricting blood vessels in the affected area, thereby reducing inflammation and the sensation of pain.

So, how do you use a cold compress for toothache relief? Easy! Here’s a step-by-step guide:

  1. Place ice in a watertight bag.
  2. Remove the excess air from the bag.
  3. Wrap the bag in a cloth.
  4. Apply the cold compress to your cheek.
  5. Leave it on for 15-20 minutes.
  6. Repeat every few hours for relief.

Elevating the Head at Night

Sleeping with an elevated head might not be the first thing that comes to mind when you think of toothache relief strategies. Yet, this simple act can aid in alleviating toothache pain, including discomfort caused by wisdom teeth, by mitigating inflammation and averting fluid buildup around the affected tooth.

Elevating the head with an additional pillow or two can potentially provide enough relief for individuals to be able to fall asleep, especially when dealing with an infected tooth. Some recommended methods for comfortably elevating the head during sleep include:

  • Using a second pillow to elevate the head to a comfortable level
  • Inclined bed therapy
  • Sleeping on your back with a pillow under your knees
  • Sleeping on your side with your head slightly elevated and turned to the side.

Numbing gels and ointments are another over-the-counter solution that can offer temporary relief from toothache pain. These products, which often contain ingredients like benzocaine, work by creating a numbing effect on the affected area. However, it’s important to note that benzocaine is not recommended for use by children under 2 years of age.

Applying these gels and ointments is straightforward. Cut off the tip of the tube, apply an amount of gel the size of a green pea into the tooth cavity with a clean finger or swab, and use up to 4 times daily. Relief from toothache pain can typically be anticipated within a few minutes to a maximum of 20 minutes, varying based on the particular product utilized.

Rinsing Techniques: Saltwater & Hydrogen Peroxide

Beyond medications and physical techniques, did you know that rinsing your mouth can also offer relief from toothache pain? A simple saltwater rinse is known to have the following benefits:

  • Anti-inflammatory properties
  • Promotes wound healing in the mouth
  • Provides relief from toothache pain
  • Assists in removing food particles or debris lodged in the teeth or gums

Another effective rinse for toothache relief is hydrogen peroxide. However, you must dilute food-grade hydrogen peroxide with equal parts water and rinse your mouth with it without swallowing. This remedy is not recommended for children due to the risk of accidental ingestion. Although it may not be as effective as specialized mouthwashes, a hydrogen peroxide rinse has the potential to reduce plaque, gingivitis, and oral bacteria.

Natural Remedies: Peppermint Tea, Clove Oil, and Garlic

If you prefer natural remedies or simply want to try something different, consider peppermint tea, clove oil, or garlic. One possible method for temporary toothache relief is to swish peppermint tea in the mouth, or to suck on peppermint tea bags. These methods may provide some relief from the pain..

Clove oil is another effective natural remedy for toothache pain. The recommended approach is to apply a pinch of ground cloves directly onto the affected tooth and hold it in place, or to soak a cotton ball in clove oil and apply it to the painful area.

Last but not least, garlic. To relieve tooth pain, mix a crushed clove of garlic with a pinch of rock salt and apply the mixture around the affected tooth. This remedy can help provide relief from discomfort.

Preventive Measures for Toothaches

Prevention is always better than cure. Maintaining good oral hygiene is key in preventing toothaches by reducing the chances of developing conditions such as cavities and gum disease, common causes of toothaches.

To avoid toothaches, it is recommended to:

  • Brush teeth at least twice a day using fluoride toothpaste, such as Sensodyne, specifically designed for sensitive teeth, with a soft-bristled toothbrush
  • Regularly floss
  • Schedule biannual professional teeth cleaning

Following these practices can help prevent toothaches and treat oral health problems.

When to See a Dentist

Self-care strategies and over-the-counter remedies can offer temporary relief from toothache pain. However, if you experience continuous tooth pain, seeking professional dental treatment to address the issue is advisable.

Dentists conduct a thorough examination, and may utilize dental X-rays, to assess any underlying issues. The course of treatment is determined based on the severity of the condition. Some common dental procedures include tooth extraction, where a tooth is removed from its socket by a dentist, often required when the tooth is extensively damaged or decayed.

After a tooth extraction, you have options such as a dental bridge, dental implant, or a temporary prosthetic tooth for replacing the pulled tooth.


In summary, toothache pain relief is a multi-faceted approach, involving over-the-counter medications, physical techniques such as using a cold compress or elevating the head at night, and rinsing techniques. Natural remedies like peppermint tea, clove oil, and garlic can also provide temporary relief. However, maintaining good oral hygiene and regular dental check-ups are key to preventing toothaches in the first place. If you have persistent toothache pain, don’t hesitate to see a dentist for proper diagnosis and treatment.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is best thing for toothache?

For fast relief from toothache pain, take ibuprofen, aspirin, or acetaminophen as prescribed on the bottle. One study suggests that ibuprofen is especially effective against toothaches.

How do I know if my toothache is serious?

If you have swelling, severe pain that doesn’t improve with medication, or bleeding that won’t stop, it may be a sign of a serious toothache. Seek emergency medical attention immediately.

What is the best painkiller for toothache?

For toothache pain relief, ibuprofen is the most effective over-the-counter remedy. Advil or Motrin combined with Tylenol also offer fast relief from dental pain due to their anti-inflammatory properties. Consider taking these medications as directed on the bottle.

What causes toothaches?

Toothaches are usually caused by irritation to the nerve in a tooth or its surrounding area, which is often due to tooth decay.

Can over-the-counter medications provide relief from toothache pain?

Yes, over-the-counter medications like NSAIDs can provide relief from toothache pain.

This article is complete and was published on January 3, 2024, and last updated on January 3, 2024.

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