Let’s be honest: a toothache hurts. And even if you’ve already booked an appointment to see your dentist, you still want relief from the pain now.

Here are 9 tooth pain relief home remedies until your dental appointment. 

1. Aspirin 

Taking an over-the-counter pain reliever, like aspirin, as directed can help to ease the pain caused by a toothache. 

Aspirin, or acetylsalicylic acid, slows the production of the chemical substances our body produces that cause us to feel pain. Once swallowed, the medicine is absorbed in the intestines, where it can then enter the bloodstream. Your blood then distributes the medication throughout your body, where it can inhibit those pain-causing chemicals and provide relief.  

2. Cold Compress

In addition to taking aspirin, you may want to apply a cold compress to the outside of your cheek on the side of the face you are experiencing tooth pain.

Applying a cold compress reduces the blood flow to the area, thus reducing inflammation and swelling that can cause pain. When using cold compress therapy, treat the affected area for no longer than 20 minutes at a time. 

3. Swish with salt water.

Swishing with warm salt water can help in two ways. The first is through the swishing action, which can help to dislodge any particles that may be causing pressure or discomfort in the affected area. A solution of warm salt water can also help to reduce swelling and act as an antiseptic. 

To create a warm salt water solution, also called a saline solution, dissolve 1 teaspoon of salt in an 8-ounce glass of warm water. Swish the solution in the mouth for 30 seconds before spitting it out. You can repeat this tooth pain relief process as often as needed.

4. Elevate the head.

Another easy way to ease pain from a toothache is to elevate your head. This helps to prevent blood from pooling to the afflicted area, in turn relieving pressure and throbbing sensations.  

Prop your head up so it is above the heart and at a downward angle. This can be achieved by stacking two or three pillows on top of one another.

5. Avoid eating cold and hot foods. 

Tooth pain can be exasperated when the affected area comes into contact with hot or cold foods. If you find that pain remains 15 seconds after the offending stimuli has been removed, there is a strong possibility the tooth is infected. Avoid foods that trigger pain until you see your dentist. 

Additionally, sugary and acidic foods can further agitate a badly decayed tooth that is causing pain. Both are catalysts of decay, and so not only can they irritate the infected area, but they can also worsen the damage being done. Hard foods should also be avoided when experiencing tooth pain, as it can worsen chips, cracks, and loose teeth. They also put pressure on an already painful, sensitive area.  

6. Mouthwash to Disinfect

An antiseptic mouthwash, or mouthrinse, can be used similarly to a saline solution to remove any lodged debris between teeth and disinfect the area. 

Look for a rinse that boasts the ADA Seal of Acceptance to ensure the product is proven safe to use. Avoid products that make claims of whitening properties, which can be harsh and irritating to the afflicted area. 

7. Floss

Floss thoroughly between teeth. Pain and discomfort can be the result of pressure building from food debris that has become lodged between teeth.

Use an 18-inch strand of floss wound about the fingers, leaving two inches of working space. Carefully and gently work the floss between each tooth, moving the string in a C-shape to hug around the body of each tooth.   

8. Treat sinus symptoms.

Sometimes tooth pain is from the congestion of a sinus infection and not a dental issue. If in addition to tooth pain you are experiencing a runny nose, cough, mucus, nasal drip, ear pain, fever, sore throat, loss of smell and taste, or pressure around the nose, eyes, and forehead, you may have a sinus infection. Typically, if tooth pain is related to congestion, it will be felt in the upper molars, most likely affecting multiple teeth. 

To ease symptoms, drink plenty of water, use a neti pot to clear sinuses, and use steam treatments from either a hot bowl of water or shower to ease pressure. Make an appointment with your doctor to have the extent of the infection examined and properly treated.

9. Avoid holistic “cures.”

There are a slew of recommendations on how to cure or ease a toothache at home. Not only are many tooth pain relief solutions scientifically unsound, they can also cause far more harm and pain than good. In general, it’s best to avoid “cures” that include essential oils or applying homemade pastes topically to the afflicted tooth. It is also important to note that while items like aspirin and hydrogen peroxide may already be in your medicine cabinet to treat other maladies, they should never be applied to the inside of the mouth, as both can cause burns.