A toothache can result from tooth decay, an infection, loose or broken fillings, or receding gums. Home treatment options include applying a cold compress, gargling with salt water, and drinking peppermint tea.

If the pain lasts for more than 1 or 2 days, it is best to consult a dentist immediately for treatment.

Until then, simple remedies from ingredients usually available at home may temporarily relieve the discomfort.

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Toothache is a symptom of pain in or around the tooth, usually stemming from issues with the teeth or gums. Many toothaches can result from issues such as:

How long does a toothache last?

The underlying cause of toothache determines how long it lasts. If it persists for more than 2 days, a person needs to consult a doctor.

Toothache can result from various causes, including:

  • tooth decay
  • broken fillings
  • infections in the mouth
  • oral conditions, such as periodontitis

There are many home remedies and treatments to treat toothache before visiting a dentist.

A cold compress or ice pack

A cold compress or an ice pack can help ease dental pain, especially if the toothache is from injury or swollen gums.

For example, a person can try holding an ice pack or a bag of frozen peas against the outside of the cheek above the painful tooth for a few minutes.

Applying a cold treatment constricts the blood vessels, slowing blood flow to the affected area. This helps numb the pain and reduce swelling and inflammation.

Saltwater mouthwash

Rinsing the mouth with warm salt water helps loosen debris lodged in cavities or between teeth. It may also reduce swelling, boost healing, and relieve a sore throat.

A saltwater rinse involves dissolving 1 teaspoon of salt in a glass of warm water and swishing it around in the mouth for about 30 seconds before spitting it out.


Over-the-counter medication, such as acetaminophen and ibuprofen, can temporarily relieve toothache.

However, a person needs to avoid giving aspirin to children under 16 years old.


Like cloves, peppermint has numbing properties that can soothe a toothache. Menthol, which gives peppermint its minty flavor and smell, is also known to be antibacterial.

A person can try adding 1 teaspoon of dried peppermint leaves to a cup of boiling water and steeping for 20 minutes. After allowing it to cool, they can swirl it around the mouth and spit it out or swallow it.

An individual can also hold a slightly warm, wet teabag against the tooth for several minutes until the pain eases.

As a temporary remedy, a few drops of peppermint oil on a cotton ball can also help — a person can place it on the affected tooth.


Thyme has medicinal uses and is an effective remedy for chest infections, such as bronchitis or whooping cough. Thymol, the main component of the essential oil, has antiseptic and antifungal properties.

A person can add one drop of thyme essential oil to a glass of water to make a mouthwash.

Another method is to sprinkle a few drops of thyme essential oil and water onto a cotton ball. After adding the water, a person can press it against the painful tooth.

Aloe vera

Aloe vera gel, which develops in the succulent plant’s leaves, is a common treatment for burns and minor cuts. Some people now use the gel to clean and soothe gums.

Studies have shown aloe vera has natural antibacterial qualities and can destroy germs that cause tooth decay.

Applying the gel to the painful area of the mouth can provide relief.

Hydrogen peroxide rinse

Rinsing with a hydrogen peroxide solution is an effective antibacterial mouthwash, especially if an infection causes a toothache.

However, hydrogen peroxide is dangerous if a person swallows it, so they need to take care when rinsing.

A person can mix with equal parts of 3% hydrogen peroxide and water and swish in the mouth for about 30 seconds. After spitting it out, they need to rinse the mouth several times with plain water.

A person should avoid swallowing it — additionally, this remedy is unsuitable for children.


Cloves are a spice native to the Maluku Islands in Indonesia. They contain eugenol, a chemical compound that acts as a natural anesthetic.

Cloves also have anti-inflammatory and antibacterial properties, which can help fight tooth and gum infections.

A person can soak a small cotton ball with clove oil and apply it to the area affected by the painful tooth.

Dried whole cloves also work. Individuals can gently chew a whole clove to release its oil and hold it against the affected tooth for up to 30 minutes.

A dentist would most likely aim to treat the underlying cause of the toothache. They will examine the mouth using an X-ray to determine the problem. Treatments include:

Ways to prevent toothache include:

  • practicing dental hygiene, such as regular brushing, flossing, using mouthwash, and avoiding sugary foods and drinks
  • avoiding activities that lead to tooth problems, such as smoking
  • undergoing regular dental checkups

Learn more about dental hygiene.

These home remedies only provide temporary relief. It is important to seek immediate treatment from a dentist once a toothache persists longer than 2 days.

Without treatment, dental pain might lead to more serious problems, such as gum disease or a dental abscess. An abscess results from a bacterial infection in the innermost part of the tooth, which is a dental pulp.

When is toothache an emergency?

A toothache may be an emergency when the pain:

  • lasts more than 2 days
  • does not go away with painkillers
  • comes with a high temperature or fever
  • comes with swollen or discolored gums
  • comes with swollen cheeks
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Here are answers to common questions about toothache.

How do you sleep with tooth pain?

Although sleeping with tooth pain can be difficult, taking painkillers should help. A person can seek help from an emergency dentist if the pain does not go away with painkillers and sleep is difficult.

Can a toothache go away on its own?

Some toothaches can go away on their own, depending on the cause. Temporary toothaches may occur from biting into something hard or falling and damaging the mouth.

Why does my toothache not go away with painkillers?

Toothache that does not go away with painkillers may indicate a severe underlying problem, such as tooth decay. If it does not go away with painkillers, a person can seek dental help.

Does a throbbing tooth mean infection?

There can be many reasons for throbbing tooth pain, including infections such as dental abscesses.

The best way to prevent toothache or dental abscesses is to keep teeth and gums as healthy as possible. This includes brushing teeth with fluoride toothpaste twice daily, cutting down on sugary food and drinks, and having regular dental checkups.

If a toothache lasts more than a couple of days, individuals need to consult a dentist for advice and treatment.