Home Remedies for Toothaches

February 8, 2022

Originally published August 2018. Updated February 2022.

From dull and aching to sharp and throbbing, toothaches and tooth pain are hard to ignore and can put a big damper on your day. Toothaches can be caused by a number of factors, including something as simple as having a popcorn kernel stuck in your gum to something more serious like a tooth infection or tooth decay (the most common cause of a toothache in kids and adults!).

If you’re experiencing a toothache that doesn’t go away in a day or two, it’s important to schedule a dentist appointment as soon as possible to help figure out the root cause of your pain and help with your symptoms. In the meantime, there are several tried-and-true home remedies to help manage your tooth pain and even alleviate minor irritation.

Got a toothache and need a dentist? Use our ‘Find a Dentist’ tool to locate a provider that’s right for you!

Find A Dentist

Over-the-Counter Toothache Treatments

Toothaches are the most common cause of oral pain — and most people will likely experience one in their lifetime.

Over-the-counter (OTC) treatments can be a good place to start, and should help provide some tooth pain relief. There are two common types of OTC toothache treatments: benzocaine topical treatments and anti-inflammatory drugs.

Topical benzocaine treatments

Topical benzocaine is a local anesthetic that’s applied directly on the gum or tooth and provides a temporary numbing sensation that can help manage toothache pain. Benzocaine can be found in most drugstores, and is often sold under the brand names Anbesol, Hurricaine, Orajel, and Orabase.

Anti-Inflammatory drugs

Anti-inflammatory drugs are also another common OTC treatment for toothaches. These kinds of drugs target inflammation and can relieve toothache pain that’s caused by swelling. Acetaminophen (Tylenol) and non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), such as ibuprofen (Advil) and naproxen (Aleve), are common anti-inflammatory medications you’ll find at your drugstore.

*Always call your dentist before taking any medication for your toothache.

Homeopathic Toothache Treatments

Not a fan of OTC medications? There are some natural, homeopathic remedies for toothaches you can try — many of them may even be hiding in your pantry or kitchen cupboards.

Cold compress

A cold compress can provide tooth relief by numbing the pain while simultaneously reducing swelling and inflammation. This remedy works by constricting the blood vessels, which slows the flow of blood to the painful area. To use a cold compress for a toothache, simply hold an ice pack or frozen bag of veggies on the outside of the cheek for a few minutes at a time.

Saltwater Gargle

A saltwater rinse for a toothache can be an effective way to clean out an infected area, loosen food or debris, and provide temporary relief. Swish a small amount for 30 seconds and repeat once or twice. This will help to get rid of some bacteria for short-term relief.

Clove Oil

Clove oil is another popular toothache home remedy and may be used as an antiseptic for oral problems. Clove oil also has a natural anesthetic called eugenol, which numbs whatever it comes into contact with. To use clove oil for a tooth pain, put a couple of drops on a cotton ball and place it on the affected area to give you a few minutes of relief.

WARNING: Clove oil can make the pain worse if it comes in contact with other sensitive areas of your mouth. Be very careful.

Peppermint Tea Bags

Peppermint has commonly been used to alleviate toothaches because it contains menthol, an ingredient with known numbing properties. It also has antibacterial properties, which might help fight off a possible infection. To use peppermint tea as a home remedy for tooth pain, wet a peppermint tea bag and place into the freezer for a few minutes. Then, apply the cooled tea bag onto the affected area. Keep it on for 20 minutes. You may also brew peppermint tea, and, once cooled, swish it around in your mouth to help alleviate tooth pain.

Hydrogen Peroxide Rinse

Like salt water, hydrogen peroxide acts as a cleansing aid. However, it doesn’t just remove bacteria, it attacks it. Mix equal parts 3% hydrogen peroxide and water and swish for 30 seconds. Repeat once or twice.

WARNING: Do NOT ingest and DO NOT use this remedy for children.

Bourbon-Soaked Cotton Ball

Like most alcohols, bourbon has numbing properties — which can provide tooth pain relief when applied topically. To use bourbon for a toothache, put some on a cotton ball and place it on the affected area. You’ll get some short-term relief that wears off as the alcohol evaporates away.

WARNING: Do NOT use this remedy for children.


Garlic is often cited as a home remedy for a toothache because of its antibacterial and antimicrobial properties. These properties are the result of the compound allicin, which is created when the cloves are chewed, crushed, or sliced. To use garlic for a toothache, first mash a garlic clove with a pinch of salt and apply to the affected area. You may also pop a clove of garlic in your mouth and chew it normally. Repeat this process a couple of times a day.

Raw garlic does have some potential side effects though, and may cause bad breath, body odor, bloating, and heartburn.

Aloe Vera

Aloe Vera is a natural home remedy for toothaches and can help clean and soothe the gums. While most people associate aloe with sunburns, studies show it also has antibacterial effects that can fight bacteria causing tooth decay. To use aloe vera for tooth pain, just apply the gel to the affected area and gently massage.

*Always call your dentist before trying a homeopathic toothache remedy.

Toothache Next Steps

If your toothache lasts more than a couple days, it’s important to call your dentist and make an appointment as soon as possible. Your toothache pain may be an indicator of a serious oral health condition like tooth decay, bacterial infection, an abscess, TMJ, sinus trouble, or even heart disease — and your dentist will be the best person to provide guidance on managing symptoms and preventing toothaches in the future.

Got a toothache and need a dentist? Use our ‘Find a Dentist’ tool to locate a provider that’s right for you!

Find A Dentist