Wisdom Teeth Pain Relief: Wise Remedies

Experiencing pain due to an impacted or erupting wisdom tooth? You’ll obviously want to know what you can do to get some pain relief…

Using some or all of the following list can help relieve your symptoms:

      • Mouth-rinsing.  Use either a salt water rinse (cup of warm water with half teaspoon of salt) or a mouthwash such as chlorhexidine. Rinse for at least 30 seconds, trying to swish the mouthwash around the sore wisdom teeth area. Repeat several times a day while symptoms persist. The effect of the mouthwash is to clean under the gum flap where the problem-causing bacteria lie.
      • Chlorhexidine mouthwash also comes in a gel form.  This can be very useful as the cleaning gel can seep under the gum-flap (that lies above the impacted molars) and it can remain active there for some time. Use of a local anesthetic-containing gel such as anbesol or orajel may help in the short term, but avoid excessive use.
      • In the case of severe pain/swelling:  Applying hot or cold compresses to the area may give some relief.  For example, use an ice pack or a hot-water bottle against the cheek, for a maximum of 15 minutes at a time.
      • Painkillers and anti-inflammatories (e.g. paracetamol, aspirin and ibuprofen) can help bring pain relief…


"Image of woman with icepack for wisdom tooth pain relief"

Pain-killers for Relief of Wisdom Tooth Pain 

A variety of over-the-counter painkillers can be useful. These include:

  • Ibuprofen (Advil/Motrin/Brufen)
  • Aspirin
  • Paracetamol/acetaminophen/Tylenol
  • Paracetamol/Tylenol 3 with codeine.

Ibuprofen is best for a lot of people to provide relief (more here) as it both reduces toothache and also reduces inflammation. However only take any medicine to stop pain if you know it is suitable for you.  For example, ibuprofen is not suitable if you have stomach ulcers or are asthmatic. Aspirin is not suitable if you have any bleeding disorders. Some painkillers are best avoided during pregnancy.

If in doubt, always get advice from your doctor/dentist and/or pharmacist on which painkillers you can take. Always stick to the recommended dose of any medication. Never leave an aspirin tablet resting beside the wisdom tooth!  This will not provide any pain relief, and may burn your gums as aspirin is acidic!


Still in Pain?

In the case of  any of the following, contact your dentist:

  • Symptoms persisting.
  • Symptoms being severe.
  • Serious symptoms arise, such as; swollen glands under the chin (‘lymph nodes’), swelling of the face and jaw, muscle spasms in the jaw, fever and general malaise.

See the previous page for more details on these and other impacted wisdom teeth symptoms.


What Your Dentist Can Do To HelpClose-up of woman with open mouth being treated

In the first instance, the dentist will clean under the gum flap and may prescribe an antibiotic if a wisdom teeth infection is present.  The dentist may also file down the upper wisdom tooth or indeed extract this if is impinging onto the gum flap when you bite (as a general rule, upper erupted wisdom teeth are much easier to extract than their lower counterparts).  Treating the upper opposing tooth can give a fast remedy in some circumstances.  This may also result in the impacted (lower) tooth settling down in the long term.

The dentist will examine the area around the wisdom teeth coming in and may take X-rays. These will give a clearer view of  where the affected teeth are, whether or not they are impacted and how they might move (or otherwise) in the future. Therefore your dentist will be better advised on the ideal wisdom teeth pain management strategy for your circumstances. In the case of serious symptoms, e.g. major swelling, the dentist may have to refer you to hospital.  


Next:  Advice on getting your wisdom teeth removed.

Click here for advice on wisdom teeth pain relief after removal.

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