How to Get Rid of a Toothache

Ways to relieve toothache pain

Here’s how to relieve a toothache until you can get to the dentist.

Even though they’re hard to the touch, teeth are surprisingly sensitive. After all, their ability to pick up changes in temperature and pressure plays a role in helping us eat and warning us when something might be too hard or is hurting our teeth. We can then adjust the way we’re chewing or stop entirely, which can help prevent injuries. The downside to this sensitivity is that when teeth do suffer damage from an injury or decay, it can be very painful. Pain such as this is commonly referred to as a toothache.

If your child is experiencing a toothache, seeing how uncomfortable they are and feeling like there’s nothing you can do can be very hard. Thankfully, you and your child don’t have to suffer through it! There are several ways you can relieve your child’s pain while you wait for their dental appointment or on your drive to the emergency dentist. If you’re not quite sure how to get rid of a toothache, we’ve shared a few of the best methods you can try at home below.


Sometimes the cause of a toothache is simply a bit of food getting stuck between your child’s teeth or just below their gumline. If this is the case, their gums may appear slightly swollen or red in a specific area. When this happens, the solution for their toothache could be as simple as flossing! This dislodges the debris and can resolve the toothache, though it may take between a few hours and a day for the soreness to fade completely.

Warm Saltwater Rinse

It might not seem like warm salt water would do much for a toothache, but it can be surprisingly helpful! Salt water is anti-inflammatory as well as a natural disinfectant, so it kills germs and helps prevent or address infections while reducing inflammation. All you need to do is mix 1/2 teaspoon of salt with eight ounces of warm water, then have your child use it just like a mouthwash. This action helps the salt water make it all the way around the painful tooth and can also help flush debris from between your child’s teeth. After they’ve swished it around in their mouth for about 30 seconds, simply make sure they spit the salt water out instead of swallowing it.

Ice Pack

Ice packs are a tried-and-true method of relieving aches and pains, and they can be just as effective for your child’s toothache. Simply apply an ice pack to the affected side of your child’s jaw to numb the area and reduce swelling or inflammation. This can make a huge difference in your child’s pain levels and help them feel a lot better, but it’s important to remember to rotate the ice out. Keeping the ice on too long can cause problems of its own, so it’s generally best to allow your child to apply ice for 15 minutes, then take it off for at least 15 minutes to allow the area to warm back up before you apply ice again.

Over-the-Counter Pain Relievers

Over-the-counter pain relievers have become a go-to method for resolving pain, and they’re just as effective when they’re used as a toothache pain reliever! The only reason you need to be a little cautious with over-the-counter pain medications is that they can be a little too effective, allowing your child to forget to be careful with their tooth. This doesn’t mean you can’t use it, however! After all, the goal is to make your child comfortable, and over-the-counter pain medications can drastically reduce or eliminate your child’s pain. It simply means you should monitor your child closely while they’re on the medication, reminding them to be careful with the affected side of their mouth even though it may no longer hurt.

Clove Oil

If you want to avoid pain medication, clove oil is a great alternative. It’s so effective that it’s actually been used as a tooth pain remedy for centuries! The reason it’s so effective? It contains natural numbing ingredients that allow it to actively numb your child’s pain. It also has antibacterial, antifungal, and anti-inflammatory properties, so it can help prevent infection and fight oral bacteria while reducing inflammation. You can apply clove oil directly to the affected tooth and surrounding gums using a cotton ball, which you may want to leave against your gums for five or 10 minutes as it starts working. Alternatively, you can mix a drop of clove oil with water to squish around your mouth like a mouthwash. Just try to swish mainly around the affected area so you don’t numb your entire mouth! You can reapply the clove oil every two or three hours.

Book an appointment!

When your child is experiencing a toothache, you should almost always schedule an appointment with Dr. Staley right away. The only exceptions to this rule are if their pain is caused by their primary or secondary teeth emerging or food debris that you were able to dislodge by flossing. Otherwise, toothaches are usually a sign that there’s a serious issue with your child’s tooth that needs to be treated quickly, even if you don’t see visible damage! In addition to the causes we’ve already mentioned, toothaches can result from:

  • Chipped or broken teeth
  • Cracked enamel
  • Loose or missing fillings
  • Habitually clenching or grinding teeth
  • Enamel erosion
  • Tooth decay
  • Impacted teeth, most commonly wisdom teeth
  • Gum disease
  • Dental abscesses

Some of these issues are considered dental emergencies and warrant an immediate trip to the dentist, especially if your child’s symptoms are severe, but others can wait a few days. Either way, it’s best to call our office and schedule a dentist appointment as soon as your child develops a toothache. We’ll help you determine if your child’s symptoms are a dental emergency if you aren’t sure, but even treating non-emergencies as quickly as possible is incredibly important. It prevents the underlying issue from getting worse, which may even save their tooth in the long run. Plus, it’ll ensure that your child starts feeling better as soon as possible!

Toothaches aren’t fun for you or your child, but your child doesn’t have to feel miserable while they wait for treatment! These methods can help significantly reduce or eliminate your child’s pain, making the experience easier for everyone involved. If you’d like to schedule an appointment for your child’s toothache, feel free to call our office at any time.