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Surviving a Dreadful Toothache

Updated on May 31, 2013

The Worst Possible Thing

It feels like my mouth is punching me in the face. No sleeping, no eating, no happiness. This is a common state to find oneself in when suffering from a horrid toothache. It's a dismal existence. No one can help. Especially if it's a weekend. But maybe, just maybe there are some ways to subside the pain until you can go see your favorite person...the dentist. I have suffered some toothaches that felt like the wrath of God was coming down on me. I will list some things that I have done that have helped, and some things I have heard or read that has helped others.


None of what I am saying should be construed as medical advice. I am not a practicing medical professional. I'm just a guy who has suffered like you. These are just my thoughts.


Ibuprofen, Tylenol or even Aspirin. Ibuprofen seems to work the best for me. I like to piggy -back though. I alternate Ibuprofen and Tylenol. When you go to the dentist it's possible he/she will prescribe something stronger.

Salt Water Rinse

Warm water with some salt and swish around for a minute or so. I do this about 4 times a day. It does help a little with the pain, but more importantly if you have an abscess it may help draw out the infection. It will help to keep your mouth clean.

Brush and Mouthwash

A good brushing may clear out some debris such as left over food which may be the cause of your pain. Also a good mouthwash like Listerine may be helpful.



OK this is where it gets a little crazy. Garlic has an antibacterial compound in it called Allicin. A lot of times the source of tooth pain is an infection. Garlic may help to eradicate the infection. You're really gonna have to man up for this one though, it hurts like hell. What I do is this:

  • only use fresh garlic cloves
  • Cut one of the cloves into little chunks
  • take one of the chunks and skin it
  • put the clove on the abscess or bad tooth between the gum and cheek
  • hold it there for 5-10 minutes, may burn like hell.
  • swallow the clove with water when done

I usually swallow a few chunks with water (like taking pills). Like I said earlier, this one is not for the faint of heart, but it has helped me in the past.

Clove Oil

I have never used this one myself. I do hear about it being effective for controlling pain. Rubbing clove oil on the infected area with a cotton swab seems to be the consensus strategy for this particular dynamic.

Vanilla Extract

Vanilla extract has alcohol in it which will dull the pain somewhat. I have used this one and it did help on a very temporary basis. Once again, using a cotton swab soaked in vanilla extract and applying to the effected area did result in some relief from pain.

Numbing Agents

There are over-the-counter numbing agents like Ambesol or Orajel that may give you some temporary pain relief. I have used these products in the past and they have helped with pain. Not a long term solution.

Heat and Ice

This one is tricky. If you have an infection, which an abscess is a clear indication of, then heat is probably not a good idea. Heat will give some pain relief for a toothache(cavity). Using a heating pad on the cheek has helped me in the past. I usually lean more toward using ice. Unless you know there is no infection then I would urge you to use ice. Also if there is swelling ice will help to control that.

My Last Experience

My last horrible toothache was caused by an abscess around my top left incoming wisdom tooth. It was absolutely horrifying. I felt the abscess with my finger and right away knew it was an infection. This instantly eliminated using any kind of heat source for pain relief. My regimen was as follows:

  • garlic treatment 3 times a day. It was brutal.
  • salt water rinse 4 times a day
  • Ibuprofen and Tylenol around the clock
  • brushing and Listerine 2-3 times a day
  • I used ice a few times with no real pattern


Don't be a Moron

  • If you do have an abscess do not try to drain it yourself with a needle. This is an extremely piss-poor idea. All it takes is for you to pop the abscess and have infected drainage go down your throat for you to be in real trouble.
  • Make sure you see a dentist. Even if the pain subsides, that doesn't mean you're in the clear. The pain may come back. You may need some antibiotics to eliminate the infection.
  • There are ways to see a dentist even if you can't afford it. Check with free clinics, dental schools etc..

Not the End of the World

Even though a toothache sucks and ruins every part of your life for a will eventually go away. Remember you won't always be in pain for the rest of your life. I know it's hard to believe this when you're going through it but it's true...this too shall pass.


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