Dental pain often comes on suddenly and it can be extremely intense until the underlying problem can be addressed. These emergency home treatments for dental pain can help make your tooth or gum pain more bearable until you’re able to get to a dentist. Bear in mind that none of these are meant to correct dental problems. I have used most of these first aid remedies for my own teeth, prior to getting 15 fillings and 3 extractions, and as part of dealing with dry socket. They are no substitute for proper dental care, but they can help dull the pain temporarily. Call your dentist for an emergency appointment first, and then use some of these emergency home treatments to make the wait easier.
While either heat or cold may help alleviate pain, in most cases the cold will help more. Simply put some ice in a baggie with a hand towel wrapped around it, or freeze dry rice in a baggie for similar cold retention. In a pinch, a bag of frozen vegetables works just as well.
If the pain is very obviously in one spot, consider sucking on a cold or frozen washcloth or otherwise applying cold directly to the tooth. This may not be an option if you have temperature-sensitive teeth. If applying anything directly to the tooth hurts, then keep it on the outside of your cheek and move on to more pain management methods.
A lot of dental pain is caused by an infection. Salt kills many types of bacteria and fungi, making it a soothing solution for many types of dental pain. Simply dissolve a teaspoon of salt in warm water then gargle and swish a small amount of the solution in your mouth. Repeat as needed.
Simple over-the-counter ibuprofen or acetaminophen can work wonders on dental pain. These are especially helpful for low, throbbing aches as opposed to searing pain. One drawback is that general painkillers like this often takes about 30-60 minutes to take effect and may not remain effective enough until your next dose time.
In most pharmacies, drug stores and department stores with pharmaceutical supplies you can find a paste intended for dental pain. This works to instantly numb out a precise spot and then coat it to help prevent further aggravation from food, drink and air moving over your teeth. Such pastes are often recommended to alleviate canker sores or gum injuries but may also be helpful for tooth pain. A case where recessed gums have left a small portion of root exposed is an example where neither cold packs nor general painkillers are likely to help, but a numbing paste may be effective until a dentist can evaluate the problem.
There are a number of remedies that can help reduce dental pain. Cloves rank at the top of the list. Whether you use a clove paste directly on the tooth, suck on whole cloves or apply a small amount of clove oil to the painful tooth, cloves have been shown to be exceptionally effective. Many dentists will attest to the benefits of cloves in emergency dental pain management.
Ginger may also be helpful in alleviating dental pain. This common spice has some numbing properties and can cause mild irritation that may actually diminish the sensations of pain. Use either ground ginger as a paste or in tea, or place small amounts of fresh ginger on top of the pained tooth. Try to limit direct contact with your gums in order to prevent excessive irritation.
Capsaicin has also been used for all sorts of pain relief, including dental pain. This is most readily available in hot peppers, such as cayenne, jalapeno and habanero. Simply add some dried cayenne to your food or make a paste with it (and some ginger if you’re feeling especially adventurous) and apply it to the tooth. Try not to leave capsaicin-containing substances in direct contact with soft tissues for extended periods of time.
Of all the natural pain remedies, the use of willow bark may be the best-known and have the longest history. If you live in an area where willows grow, then a bit of peeled bark may be just what you need. Either chew the bark directly, or steep it in a tea. Willow contains salicylic compounds, which are closely related to the active compounds in aspirin.