How to Treat a Toothache at Home

tooth-painTooth pain can strike at any time – not just during your dentist’s office hours – and can have a variety of causes, including tooth decay, a broken or chipped tooth, or an abscess or infection. If you can’t get to a dentist right away to have them treat the cause of your toothache, you may want to take some steps at home to reduce your discomfort. Here are a few things to know about treating a toothache at home that will keep you safe and healthy until your dentist can help you.

Treating Tooth Pain At Home

  1. Remember that tooth pain is a symptom, not an illness. As excruciating as the pain can get, the important point is for you to manage your discomfort until it can be evaluated professionally.
  2. Try a salt water rinse to cleanse your mouth. Gently rinsing with a glass full of warm salt water (use about a half-teaspoon of salt in 8 ounces of water) can remove bacteria near your painful tooth and reduce the alkalinity in your mouth. Spit out the rinse when you’re done.
  3. Over-the-counter painkillers can bring temporary relief. Dentists often recommend acetaminophen for children and ibuprofen or aspirin for adults. Do not, however, place an aspirin directly on your teeth or gums – that is a folk remedy and does not work.
  4. Use a cold compress to reduce swelling. Using a compress or an ice pack can ease tooth pain caused by an injury or swollen gums.
  5. Realize when your tooth pain is too serious to treat at home. Many times, the above strategies will provide some relief until you can visit your regular dentist or an emergency dental clinic. However, if your tooth pain is related to a jaw fracture or a mouth laceration, or you are experiencing swelling that is interfering with your ability to breathe or swallow, get to a hospital emergency room right away.

“It’s always crucial to get your tooth pain diagnosed and treated, but appropriate self-care can make waiting for your appointment a little more manageable,” says Dr. Melanie Bauer, a dentist in practice at Dr. Carol Ford & Associates in central Phoenix.

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