Clove oil, an active ingredient in many dental products, is the best home remedy for toothaches, according to Huang. “It’s a natural antiseptic that reduces pain and inflammation because of its anti-inflammatory and antibacterial properties,” she says. “It also acts as a temporary pain reliever.”
The active ingredient in clove oil can be compared to benzocaine, the numbing ingredient in many dental gels. To use clove oil, she suggests soaking a cotton ball in it and applying it directly to the toothache area, or rinsing your mouth with it.
There is some evidence that willow bark may help reduce inflammation, which will help with pain relief. “Willow bark contains salicin, which is similar to the main ingredient in aspirin,” says Huang. Willow bark tea can be gargled, or a paste of willow bark powder can be applied to the area causing pain.
A cold compress can help treat some types of oral pain. “If the cause of the toothache is trauma, applying a cold compress to the area will reduce swelling and inflammation and give you temporary pain relief,” says Huang. She suggests applying the cold compress or wrapped bag of ice to the affected area at 20-minute intervals and repeating every few hours.
Salt water rinse
Rinsing your mouth with salt water can also help with a toothache. “Salt water will naturally reduce inflammation and improve wound healing,” says Huang.
Indeed, a 2016 study in PlosOne discovered that short-term rinsing with a saline solution promotes cell migration, an important process during wound healing. Huang suggests mixing 1 tablespoon of salt with 1/2 cup of warm water. Swish the solution in your mouth for about 30 seconds as often as needed throughout the day.
Rinse hydrogen peroxide
A mixture of hydrogen peroxide and water can also help with tooth-related pain and inflammation. “This is an alternative option to the saltwater rinse,” says Huang. Mix a solution of equal parts over-the-counter hydrogen peroxide and water. Swish it around in your mouth for a minute, but don’t swallow it.
Peppermint tea bag or oil
There is scientific evidence that peppermint can help relieve various types of pain. An in vitro study in the European journal of dentistry found that peppermint was one of three oils that acted as an effective intracanal antiseptic solution against oral pathogens, meaning it can effectively prevent the growth of bacteria.
If you have a toothache, Huang suggests applying a cold peppermint tea bag. “Calm down [by putting a steeped tea bag in the freezer for a few minutes] and apply it to the area causing pain,” she says. You can also add a few drops of peppermint oil to a cotton ball and apply it directly to the affected tooth.
The herb thyme “is a powerful antibacterial and antioxidant,” says Huang. A 2016 study in BMC Complementary Medicine and Therapies found that thyme in its essential oil form has “potent antibacterial and antifungal” properties. “Put some thyme oil on a cotton ball and apply it directly to the area to relieve pain,” says Huang. A few drops of thyme oil can also be added to a glass of water and used as a mouthwash.
There is some evidence that garlic may also relieve pain. “Fresh garlic cloves contain allicin, which has antibacterial and antimicrobial properties,” says Huang. Crush or chew the garlic clove to get the necessary benefits from the allicin. “Garlic powder won’t have the same healing properties,” she adds.
Topical pain relievers
Over-the-counter pain-relieving gels, creams, liquids, and cotton swabs can also temporarily relieve pain. “These treatments usually contain several active ingredients, usually including benzocaine, which temporarily numb the area,” says Huang.
Over-the-counter pain relievers
“Anti-inflammatory drugs like ibuprofen, Advil, Motrin, or naproxen work well for toothaches because they reduce inflammation,” says Huang.
Recent data has shown that the combination of Advil (ibuprofen) and Tylenol (acetaminophen) is as effective as prescription opioids for tooth pain. Experts note that with the rise in opioid addiction, it’s nice to have an effective over-the-counter alternative. Talk to your dentist about the recommended dosage first.