How to cope with a toothache

Daniel Pataki
Jun 25, 2008
Updated • Dec 28, 2012

Well, I know this has nothing to do with technology, but I thought I'd share some tips I've learned in the past 2 days. I didn't have access to any dentists since I was away and I had very limited pain medication, which didn't work anyway. So here are some tips totally unrelated to technology, but if some of you have toothaches right now, you'll love gHacks for this!

My first tip won't ease your pain, but it will save you some. I've seen it on forums that you should put aspirin on the tooth where it hurts and hold it there. I mean this is just stupid. Aspirin doesn't ease your pain like numbing sprays. It is meant to be ingested and works in your bloodstream. If you hold aspirin to the inflammation, you will however get a cool aspirin burn, next to which your toothache will be of secondary importance. Whatever you do, swallow the aspirin, don't rub it on.

The single most helpful thing I did, which was almost the only thing that could ease my pain was salt water. And I don't mean go to the ocean salt water (although that's ok too), I mean the almost as much salt as water type, truly disgusting stuff. Just sip some in your mouth (try not to vomit, you'll get used to it after the 30th time you do this) and rinse it around where it hurts. My pain could not be relieved by the medication, but salt water in 90% of the cases completely dissolved the pain. As you would guess there is a downside. In the better cases I needed to do this every 20 minutes, but sometimes I needed to repeat every 5 minutes. Near the end, my experience was that neither the medication nor the salt helped, but if I took the medication the pain remained, but the salt water could ease it. Go figure. Apparently there is no danger to this, although I am no doctor, but believe me, it is not pleasant. Sure beats the pain though. Oh, and yes, it does sting your mouth and tongue, just rinse with water afterward.

My third tip is something I vaguely thought would work, I don't know why I though this, but nevertheless it helped. There was a swimming pool where I stayed and swimming underwater also almost completely eased the pain for a while. Again, the pain comes back, but keep repeating until you can go to a doctor. I think the cold and the pressure work together here, but again, no idea. The downside was that UV was at about 8 which is extremely high, meaning you get completely sunburned in 15 minutes.

The fourth tip is also a prevention type tip. Whatever you do, don't pick at it. Sometimes its tempting, because a nudge here and there with maybe moves your tooth in such a way that the pain will be better. No it won't. You could cause an inflammatory reaction which is very, very painful. Rinsing is fine, but don't touch or try to move it ever.


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  1. booty licker said on May 12, 2011 at 10:53 pm

    omg toothache is the worst pain ever i would rather have a broken leg than toothache

  2. Anonymous said on November 18, 2010 at 11:21 am

    i´ve tired that all but is not working…

  3. sophie said on February 15, 2009 at 1:49 am

    ma tooth is killin me i tried all ya sed buh nothin is workin,sum1 with sumin new pliz

  4. Dreak said on January 26, 2009 at 3:05 am


  5. Concrete said on June 29, 2008 at 8:42 pm

    Thank you for this.

    I have a really bad toothache right now, and it’s Sunday, and I can’t reach any dentist until tomorrow.

    I mixed some table salt with water (about half/half), and used a Q-tip on my bad tooth and the gums around. The tooth has been chipped, so I had to put the saltwater directly onto the exposed broken part.

    It worked, I went from really bad aching to not feeling anything at all in an instant.

    Thank you, once again.

  6. Ken said on June 27, 2008 at 4:14 pm

    here is a preventative solution: Brush your teeth!!!

  7. Krobot said on June 27, 2008 at 12:58 pm

    as for my case, i just fill my mouth with water not full but at least enough to cover the infected area, some how it ease the pain, the downside was, i have to keep refilling it once a while and i actually wet my pillow when i try to sleep with it, despite the wetting issue, it actually put me to sleep, not a pleasant one but i do get some sleep, if you know what i mean.

  8. toolmanz said on June 27, 2008 at 1:15 am

    I found that rinsing with 20% Isopropyl alcohol and 80% water kills the pain immediately. I guess it kind of works like salt water.
    What this does is disinfect the area. Typically toothaches are aggravated by small food particles stuck in the affected tooth.
    Anyway – really works for me!

  9. sandy said on June 27, 2008 at 12:39 am

    Yes, clove oil for tooth pain.

    Haven’t you ever seen the movie “Marathon Man”?

  10. Daniel said on June 26, 2008 at 8:56 pm

    Wow, so many comments on this post :D

    Dante, thanks for those tips, I’ll look into those medications, but since I live on a different continent, chances are we don’t have those exactly here. Despite this, I know about a ton of pain medication, but the problem was I didn’t have any at my disposal, obviously I would have used it if I did :D

    Yes, clove oil is also a good remedy, I didn’t have any of that on my hands and managed to forget it off the list.

    I tend to dislike cold as a matter of inflamation relief as sometimes it just eggs it on.

    Enigma, I think you have a high tolerance for pain, or you haven’t had a proper toothache :) Toothaches are said to be one of the most painful pains (nice writing there) you can have. I guess people experience toothaches differently, it depends on your pain type tolerance I guess.

  11. Duncn said on June 26, 2008 at 3:17 pm

    I avoided dentists for years and endured a ton of pain. During the months it took to get my mouth back in order .. my dentist had me take simple pain medication .. acetaminophen (Tylenol) plus ibuprofen (Advil) at the same time.

    One without the other didn’t do much for the pain. But taking both gave great relief .. each of those pills are cheap, and available everywhere you go.

    .. That all being said .. go to the dentist. The weeks and months of agony I endured was a dark period in my life, and now that I have good dental health, I’m much happier.

  12. samer said on June 26, 2008 at 8:21 am

    I do not want to seem like promoting a commercial product, but when my girlfriend was pregnant and pain killers medication was out of the question, I told her to try Sensodyne. And she loved me for it, still we broke up but nothing to do with that:)

  13. doesnotmatter said on June 26, 2008 at 6:58 am

    I found out rinsing with mouthwash does provide some relief lasting for up to 30 min, it somehow numb the pain, also in drugstore you can purchase local anesthetizers, you put it on most painful spot and it provide you with a relief for some time .

  14. Arlo said on June 26, 2008 at 6:14 am

    This isn’t 100% toothache related, but I just wanted to mention that within a month of going on low carb (besides all the other benefits I saw, lost weight, better sleep, more energy, better blood sugar), not surprisingly my mouth health improved dramatically. Previously sore parts of a couple of my teeth (due to damaged gum line) which I could barely touch, I can now tap with my nail and there’s no pain.

    Just wanted to share that!

  15. Womble said on June 26, 2008 at 5:06 am

    It’s amazing the lengths you will go to to ease toothache isn’t it? The best one is ironically the most obvious, brush your teeth like once an hour without toothpaste I find it’s kinda like a massage for your gums. In the longer term it’s the one thing that is likely to actualy cure the infection too!

    As Dante says Ibuprofen is the gods cure for toothache, no other pain killer comes close.

  16. GRTerrero said on June 26, 2008 at 3:29 am

    My grandmother (old-skool medicine woman that she was) prescribed cloves for a toothache. I honestly can’t recall if it worked…it’s been a while since I had a toothache. But I do recall that it made your breath smell sweet.

  17. Pablo said on June 26, 2008 at 1:37 am

    I have a great tip that actually helped once quite a bit. You can use clove
    or better clove oil.
    Just rub the area with the oil, or in the case that you only have the spice chew the clove with the tooth that hurts or stick it there.
    You will see that it actually tastes a little bit like the anesthesia the dentist uses.

  18. Enigma said on June 26, 2008 at 1:32 am

    I find just getting on with the day works best, Just try and ignore it what I did with my wisdom teeth and there worse than normal teeth.

    Either I have a strong threshold to pain or it’s the best way as your body will deal with the pain on it’s own.

  19. eN said on June 26, 2008 at 12:39 am

    Simple enough is to hold in ice cube (in a plastic bag to collect the melt) in the web of your hand between the thumb and fore finger.

  20. Dante said on June 26, 2008 at 12:01 am

    Salt water is trying to reduce the swelling by taking out the water from your gums via osmosis.

    Next time, take ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin). Ibuprofen is designed to reduce inflammatory symptoms.

    So if you twisted your ankle, got gout, or even sunburnt, take ibuprofen. Suppressing your inflammatory response, suppresses the pain.

  21. Cyberbite said on June 25, 2008 at 10:26 pm

    Lolz.. I actually read the whole of it!!

    Salt Water.. dats wat my grandma always tells me to do… Its indeed relives u from pain.

    Thanx for the contribution though!

    1. Robert Evans said on April 6, 2016 at 4:01 am

      Baking Soda
      Clove Oil

      Baking soda helps as well. I am on the go alot and keep some in an empty prescription bottle. It looks better than dipping your finger in a plastic bag. It may look like an illegal substance. Anyway, I have alot of medical and dental problems and have ZERO income. I found out through being just desperate. I’ve tried vodka or rum shots and holding them there and NOT swallowing them. I’ve tried the salt water, Listerine, clove oil(which is very good to have handy-use a qq-tip). I have a toothache right now and I can”t get to a doctor. It’s very hard to type at the moment. I’m going to try the Isopropyl Alcohol……I’ll be right back…..8:46 pm…..8:56 pm….well, I’m not feeling much relief. It does help for a second. Bottom line, get to a dentist. The nerve will eventually die and the pain will go away on it’s own. Sometimes These ingredients work and sometimes they don’t. I even take Hydrocodone for other reasons and that doesn’t work. And yes, the aspirin on the tooth is ridiculous. Good Luck!

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