How Can I Get Tooth Pain Relief?

Here’s a recent question from ‘Joan’. It’s a common problem, based around getting tooth pain relief.

“Hi, please can you help? I’m travelling and can’t get to my dentist for a few days. I have severe tooth pain for two days now. It is right at the back of my bottom jaw and is keeping me awake at night. It’s driving me mad. Is there anything I can do to get relief from this? Thanks.”

Hi Joan, 

There are some things you can do for relief, but always attend your dentist.

There are some things you can do for relief, but always attend your dentist.

It’s really difficult to get any sort of help without a proper diagnosis. My best advice would be to get to a dentist nearby if at all possible. There are so many possible causes of your dental pain, that giving specific advice is pretty impossible without examining your mouth.

I include some general notes on relief while you are waiting to see your dentist, some of which may be of use to you.


Tooth Pain Relief Tips:

Here are some steps you can take that may help relieve your symptoms:

  • Painkillers. Examples of useful analgesics include paracetamol, aspirin and ibuprofen. Ibuprofen is particularly useful for some forms of toothache as it is also an anti-inflammatory. Thus it may help in cases where inflammation is contributing to the problem, such as pulpal pain, pericoronitis (from wisdom teeth) and tooth abscesses. You must only take any medication when you are sure it is safe for you to do so, always read the label and always stick to the recommended dose. Do not place an aspirin tablet directly on the gum, hoping this will somehow help. Not only is this useless, it will actually burn your gum as aspirin is acidic! Read more here.
  • Elevate your head at night, this may help you sleep where symptoms are severe enough to keep you awake.
  • Hot and cold compresses (alternatively) applied to the side of your face may also give some temporary respite. An ice-pack or a hot-water bottle can be employed. Just be careful not to hold either on for more than 20 minutes at a time. Don’t place ice directly on the skin.
  • Mouthwash. This can help with abscesses, ulcers and wisdom teeth symptoms. If the problem is at the back of your mouth, then an erupting or impacted wisdom tooth may be the cause. If there is any chance that this is the cause, use mouthwash several times a day. Try to swirl the mouthwash (aim for one containing hydrogen peroxide or chlorhexidine) around where the tooth is. A simple rinse of luke-warm water with some salt mixed in is perfectly adequate as a relieving mouthwash. Gels and rinses can be used to numb the gum, giving temporary relief. Products include Orajel, anbesol and benzydamine. Read here for more advice on wisdom tooth pain relief.
  • If a large swelling develops in your mouth, for example with an abscess, then do not delay! Seek medical or dental help immediately. Spreading abscesses can be very dangerous if left untreated.


There are lots of old-wives tales and various useless tips on the web on how to relieve a toothache, but unfortunately there simply is no magic cure. The only advice that really helps is to get to a dentist for proper tooth pain relief as soon as you can!

For severe pain in particular, you really need to attend your dentist. With intense symptoms, no product, remedy, cure or the like will really help. In such cases, root canal or extraction is often likely to be necessary.


Further reading:

Toothache guide (main page)

Tooth pain causes

Toothache relief

Toothache treatment

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