When you have a toothache, the pain can prevent you from focusing on just about anything else. Any moderate to severe tooth pain should be checked by a dentist, so make an appointment as soon as possible. While you're waiting to see your dentist, there are several things you can try at home to minimize the pain.

Salt Water

One of the best and easiest things you can do to help a toothache is to swish warm salt water in your mouth. Use about 1/2 teaspoon of table salt in 8 ounces of water. Don't swallow it — that's far too much salt to take in. Salt acts as a natural antibacterial, so it helps relieve inflammation that causes pain and prevents infection. 

Swishing warm water in your mouth can also loosen any food particles trapped between your teeth that cause irritation.

Ice Pack

Placing an ice pack or a cold compress can help relieve swelling if you have a toothache along with swollen gums or cheeks. Place the cold pack on the outside of your cheek on the same side as the sore tooth for 15 to 20 minutes at a time. Swelling can indicate a serious infection or tooth abscess, so it's important to seek treatment as soon as you can.

Clove Oil

Clove oil helps numb your mouth and acts similar to benzocaine in numbing gels. Dab a bit on a cotton ball or pad and press it against your gums and the sore tooth.


Garlic acts as a natural antibacterial and may help reduce the pain of a toothache when you chew a fresh clove due to the allicin in it. You can also crush a clove and mix it with a small amount of warm water and salt to create a paste you can spread on your tooth and gums.

Over-the-Counter Medications

Over-the-counter pain relievers can help ease tooth pain. Children should take acetaminophen. Adults can choose from other pain relievers, such as naproxen sodium, ibuprofen, or aspirin. Don't place aspirin or any other pill directly on your tooth or gums.

Over-the-counter topical medications that contain benzocaine will numb the area around your tooth when applied to your gums. Only use topical anesthetics for a short time unless your dentist directs you to use them for longer.

Schedule appointments with a dental clinic regularly — at least once every six months. Regular checkups and cleanings will help keep your teeth healthy and prevent decay and other problems that lead to pain.