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Family Care Dental Clinic

How to stop a toothache and get out of pain fast

How to stop a toothache and get out of pain fast

Of course, the answer to a toothache is always “see your dentist.” But that advice isn’t all that helpful when you can’t see your dentist right away and the pain is unbearable.

In this article, we’re going to share the methods to reduce the pain while you wait for your dentist appointment, and the common mistakes people make that actually make the pain worse.

The 3-3-3 method for tooth pain

When getting out of tooth pain, it’s all about controlling the swelling. Reduce the swelling and you reduce the pain. Short-term, the best way to reduce this inflammation is with the 3-3-3 method: three Advil (600 mg total), three times a day, for three days.

What not to do: Don’t take the Advil and then stop once you start to get pain relief. The trick with Advil is to keep the levels up, because if you back off, it takes a while for the Advil kick in again and reduce inflammation.

Keep in mind that this method can’t do anything to address the root cause of your tooth pain. You also have to check with your doctor that you can take ibuprofen. Tooth pain almost never goes away by itself — so don’t use this method for anything else except for getting out of pain enough to tide you over until your dentist appointment.

Natural toothache relief

If you can’t take Advil (and many people can’t, so check with your doctor), there are several natural methods you can use to reduce the pain.

Salt Rinse: Rinse with my super-saturated salt rinse. Here’s how you make it: Pour a glass of warm to hot water (boiling temperature not necessary) and slowly stir in either Himalayan or dead sea salt until you see salt crystals at the bottom that are no longer dissolving. Rinse with this solution 4-5 times daily to reduce inflammation and contract the tissues. This rinse is especially effective with gum pain and foreign body response to something like a poppy seed stuck in between the gums.

Clove Oil: Clove is an essential oil that may provide pain relief as strong as benzocaine (The Journal of Dentistry, 2006). The active ingredient is eugenol, which, although occurring in nature, has safety concerns according to the EWG. Most health food stores have clove oil for a few dollars a bottle. To use it, apply a very small amount to a cotton swab or piece of tissue and apply gently to the affected area. This works well if there is an exposed nerve due to a deep cavity. Specific placement of the clove oil is crucial for success — it will only work if you place the oil near the pulpal tissue (the inner substance of the tooth).

Grab a Pillow: Keep your head elevated at all times. For sleep, stay elevated with a wedge-shaped pillow. When you drop your head to the level of your heart by lying down, blood supply gradients to your head change making swelling and pain worse.

Keep the Area Cold: Frozen peas or a plastic Ziploc bag with half water and half ice works great as well.

Should I go to the emergency room for my toothache?

Don’t hesitate to go straight to the ER if you have:

  • Pain that persists for more than a day or two
  • A fever
  • Signs and symptoms of infection such as swelling
  • Your eyes are swelling shut
  • Trouble breathing or swallowing

Contact Family Care Dental Clinic for your consultation today!

Located in the heart of North Vancouver, BC, Family Care Dental Clinic is a group of passionate dentists and dental experts who are committed to providing patients with exceptional dental care in a modern and relaxing environment. We at Family Care Dental Clinic offer our clients a wide range of comprehensive dental services for the whole family.

Call (604) 987-3545 or write us at to schedule an appointment with a member of our excellent team!

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