Toothache Remedies

Reducing Tooth Pain Until You See the Dentist

woman with toothache
As long as your tooth doesn't fall out, you can wait until Monday. Peter Dazeley / Getty Images

You have a toothache but the dentist can't see you until Monday. What do you do?

How you handle a tooth problem depends on what's causing the toothache. Assuming the tooth pain started without getting punched in the face (or some other type of trauma), here are a few things recommended by the Academy of General Dentistry to reduce tooth pain until you see the dentist.

  • Rinse with warm salt water. Don't drink the salt water; spit it out.
  • Gently floss to remove any food particles between the teeth. Your toothache may be directly related to movie popcorn.
  • Take an over-the-counter pain reliever such as aspirin, Motrin or Tylenol to relieve pain. If your child has a toothache, use Tylenol (never give aspirin to kids). Don't put pain medications directly against the gums near the aching tooth; it might burn your gums (just swallow the medicine like you would for any other pain).
  • Put an over-the-counter gel or ointment with benzocaine directly on the painful tooth and gum. Applying oil of cloves (eugenol) is also helpful to numb the gums. The oil can be rubbed directly on the sore area or soaked on a cotton ball and held on the tooth.

If you got a boot to the head (or a fist, or a car accident -- you get the picture) and that's why your tooth hurts, you may need to skip the dentist and go directly to the ER. If the tooth is knocked completely out or if there's bleeding you can't stop, go to the emergency department.

If your tooth is loose, broken or pushed out of position, call the dentist.

For a toothache due to an injury, put an ice pack on the outside of the mouth near the painful tooth. Remember when using ice not to put ice directly on skin and to hold the ice pack on the skin for no more than 20 minutes.


"What Causes a Toothache?" Feb 2007. Know Your Teeth. Academy of General Dentistry. 29 Jan 2009

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