What helps with toothache? Home remedies, medication or emergency service?

What helps with toothache? Home remedies, medication, or emergency services?

They often come when you don’t count on them and can have a serious impact on the quality of life: toothache. The causes of pain in the mouth and teeth can vary widely, and there are a variety of ways to deal with toothache. Starting with home remedies that have been known and proven for generations, to painkillers from the pharmacy, which should at least dampen the often very dominant toothache. And of course a visit to the dentist, which is particularly advisable for long-lasting or particularly intense pain.

Where does the pain come from??

The cause of toothache is often irritation or inflammation of the tooth nerve. An inflammation in the jaw or gums, misaligned teeth or a fracture of the tooth can also trigger toothache. Even a simple cold can cause significant tooth pain, often in conjunction with earache. And women often suffer from sensitive teeth and jaw pain during pregnancy due to hormonal fluctuations.

Furthermore, toothache can also be complete other causes that are not found in the jaw, for example as a result of viral diseases such as shingles, inflammation of the sinuses or in the middle ear. Even diseases such as a heart attack or angina pectoris can radiate down to the lower jaw and manifest themselves in the form of painful teeth.

For this reason, you should have a toothache See a dentist as soon as possible, especially if the pain persists for several hours or worsens over time. Most dentists treat pain patients without an appointment, the dental emergency service even on weekends and at night.

How does the pain express itself??

Many sufferers experience toothache when Consumption of hot or cold, sweet or sour food and drinks. This is often described as a very bright, stinging pain stimulus that occurs immediately and quickly subsides. Toothache of this quality often arises due to exposed and therefore particularly sensitive tooth necks, but can also be an indication of a leaky filling.

On throbbing toothache is usually caused by inflammation. If the tooth is pounding in sync with the pulse, or if the toothache occurs especially when lying down, this can be an indication of a dead tooth nerve. Then only a root canal or the complete removal of the diseased tooth will help. If the painful area is also noticeably or visibly swollen, this may indicate purulent inflammation, which should be examined and treated as soon as possible.

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Home remedies for toothache

In the following we present nine home remedies for toothache, which have proven themselves frequently and can at least alleviate acute pain. However, they are in no way a substitute for a visit to the dentist and a thorough examination and treatment.

1. Cold compress

Inflammatory processes are associated with the development of heat, including toothache. If the cheek is throbbing and feels warm or even hot from the outside, a cold compress or a washcloth dampened with cold water can relieve the pain. Important: Do not put ice directly on the skin, but wrap ice cubes or a gel-filled compress in a layer of fabric (e.g. washcloth, small towel) before you put it on.

A mouthwash with cold (but not too cold) water can also help. To do this, pull the water through your teeth until it has warmed up to body temperature. Then spit out the water and do not swallow. Or put a small ice cube in your cheek pocket and cool the painful area directly.

2. Clove oil

Whether as an essential oil from the pharmacy or as a whole clove from the spice cabinet: the active ingredient eugenol contained in the clove oil has a pain-relieving effect on the surface and also has an antibacterial and anti-inflammatory effect. The active ingredient eugenol is also used in dentistry, for example for the treatment of pulpitis (inflammation of the gums) or periodontitis.

In the event of acute pain, simply bite on a (preferably fresh) dried clove and wash the painful tooth with the enriched saliva. Clove oil (available e.g. in pharmacies) works even better when dripped onto a cotton ball. Then place the cotton ball on the painful tooth for a few minutes until the analgesic effect begins. If that’s too intense, you can grind cloves in a mortar and then make a tea-like extract with hot water. Rinse your mouth regularly with the cooled clove brew.

By the way, cinnamon bark also contains eugenol, which is why often Cinnamon as another home remedy against toothache is recommended. However, the concentration of 5 to 10 percent is considerably lower compared to clove oil with a content of 70 to 95 percent eugenol. So cinnamon is significantly less pain relieving than clove.

3. Chamomile

The real chamomile contains a variety of anti-inflammatory and anti-bacterial ingredients, which make them an important medicinal plant. It is best to use a fresh tea made of chamomile flowers in pharmacist quality, because classic chamomile tea in a bag contains significantly less of the valuable ingredients. Let the tea steep for ten minutes and then cool. You can then use the infusion undiluted as a mouthwash solution, where it helps in particular with inflammation of the gums or mouth. If you use chamomile tincture (from the pharmacy), dilute it according to the package insert and prepare the mouthwash solution fresh.

4. Alcohol for disinfection

High-proof alcohol (with 40 or more percent by volume) is also used in medicine as a disinfectant because it kills bacteria and other pathogens within seconds. Therefore, alcohol is often recommended as a home remedy for toothache, especially if the pain is associated with bleeding.

However, you shouldn’t drink the alcohol (this could intensify the toothache even more), but use a small sip of it as a mouthwash and then spit it out. If the alcohol has been cooled, the pain-relieving effect is further enhanced. However, this home remedy for toothache is not suitable for children, since alcohol is also absorbed through the oral mucosa.

5. Saturated saline

Saturated saline is a natural disinfectant that can also be prepared quickly. Simply bring water to a boil and then add plenty of cooking or sea salt and dissolve. As soon as the water is saturated and no additional salt is dissolved, let the solution cool to room temperature. Then use in small doses as a mouthwash, pulling the saline solution between your teeth to rinse them and then spitting them out.

The salt denatures protein and thus destroys the cell membrane of oral germs without attacking the oral mucosa. So it works slower than, for example, disinfectant mouthwash solutions, but the effect lasts for a long time and the treatment can be repeated regularly. This home remedy for toothache is not suitable for small children as there is a risk that they will swallow the saline solution.

6. Tea tree oil

An essential oil, tea tree oil, can be obtained from the branches and leaves of the Australian tea tree. It has antiseptic, antibacterial and fungicidal effects and can therefore also be used for tinctures or douching. However, on the one hand, you should make sure that you use tea tree oil in a controlled organic quality, and also never use it undiluted. It is best to pour a drop of it into a glass of water, stir vigorously and rinse your mouth with it. In the case of particularly severe pain or inflammation, you can also soak up some of the rinsing solution with a cotton ball and place it on the painful area.

7. Onion

The onion contains many essential oils and other compounds, that work against inflammation. The onion is also a good home remedy for toothache, provided you use it correctly: peel a small, fresh onion and cut it into small cubes. Then wrap them in a clean gauze bandage or cloth and place this envelope on the painful area from the outside. Leave the onion sachet on the skin for at least half an hour so that the effect can develop.

Against the smell of onions on the skin, it helps to moisten the skin with clear water and then rub it with dry table salt. In the case of acute pain, you can also slide a freshly cut slice between the cheek and gums and leave it there for a few minutes.

8. Globules

Homeopathy focuses on activating the body’s self-healing powers and thus achieving an improvement. There are natural limits to their effects in toothache, but taking globules can help especially in spontaneous toothache with no apparent organic cause. The best way to do this is to seek advice from a homeopath or a pharmacist with the relevant experience in order to determine the most suitable preparation for your situation. Then place five globules under the tongue up to three times a day and let them slowly dissolve. Or dissolve the globules in a glass of water, which you then drink slowly and throughout the day.

9. Sugar-free chewing gum

If you lose a tooth filling at the weekend and don’t want to go to the dental emergency service, you can chew a sugar-free chewing gum softly and thereby close the hole. In order not to irritate the tooth nerve unnecessarily, you should choose a variety that contains little or no peppermint. Because the essential oils of mint have a cooling effect, which can intensify or even trigger a toothache.

This provisional restoration is of course not suitable as a permanent solution, but simply gives you a little delay. Therefore, make an appointment with your dentist as soon as possible to have the restoration professionally replaced and thus prevent worse consequences.

Medical and conventional remedies for toothache

It is of course best to go to the dental office where you are regularly receiving treatment. They know you and your teeth, can use X-rays and your treatment history and choose the optimal treatment. However, if the practice cannot be reached, for example at the weekend or during the holiday period, you do not have to endure the pain. Rather, you can use the emergency service and have it examined and treated outside of office hours.

Pain reliever for severe pain

In acute or chronic toothache pain medication can provide a quick, temporary improvement in the condition. However, it is better to get advice from your dentist, family doctor or pharmacist about possible side effects and interactions with other medications before taking them. In order to bridge the waiting time for the appointment with the dentist and to survive the night as painlessly as possible with toothache, you can at least dampen the intensity of the pain with a suitable pain reliever. But not every over-the-counter pain reliever is equally suitable.

In general, it also applies to over-the-counter medicines that can have undesirable side effects even when used as directed. Whichever pain reliever you choose: do not take it longer than necessary and stick to the dosage recommended in the package insert, both in terms of single doses and the maximum daily dose.

Below we present four over-the-counter pain relievers that are often prescribed or taken for toothache. If you are unsure which pain reliever is suitable, ask your dentist to recommend or prescribe a preparation for you.


The active ingredient ibuprofen is up to a single dose of 400 mg per tablet without a prescription and is suitable for combating acute or chronic mild to moderate pain. The active ingredient also has an anti-inflammatory and blood-thinning effect. Ibuprofen should not be taken on an empty stomach as it can irritate the stomach lining.


Pain relievers with paracetamol are also effective against acute or chronic pain and can also be taken during pregnancy. There is a risk to life in the event of an overdose, so paracetamol may only be taken in limited quantities and not for more than a few days in a row. Paracetamol is often also prescribed for children in lower doses, but it should only be taken over several days after consulting a doctor or dentist.

acetylsalicylic acid

Acetylsalicylic acid (ASA), better known under the brand name Aspirin ®, is taken as tablets with a dosage of 500 to 1,000 mg for acute or chronic pain. In addition to the analgesic, it also has a blood-thinning effect and must therefore not be used as a pain reliever after tooth extraction. If you can foresee that a tooth will be pulled during the upcoming treatment, you should also refrain from ASA in order not to impair the blood clotting.


Pain relievers with diclofenac can also relieve chronic or acute toothache. However, the active ingredient can cause complaints in the gastrointestinal tract in sensitive people. In addition, the half-life of diclofenac is shorter than that of other pain relievers, so you have to take another tablet more often to reduce the pain.

If the toothache doesn’t get better, go to the dentist

Even the best home or pain reliever from the pharmacy cannot eliminate the root cause of toothache. So if a tooth causes you pain over and over again, you have to go to the dentist. This is the only way to prevent caries, for example, from spreading further and damaging more and more healthy tooth structure.

In the worst case, the tooth nerve can become inflamed, which not only goes hand in hand with more pain, but also means that the tooth dies and can only be saved by root canal treatment. If this is also no longer possible, the tooth must be extracted, so you should not hesitate when you first experience a toothache, but rather go to the dentist directly.

Dental emergency service

The dental emergency service is a representation of the dentists, which is set up for emergencies in the field of dentistry, oral and maxillofacial medicine. The emergency service is offered by local dentists and maxillofacial surgeons and is open to all patients who do not show any life-threatening symptoms but who cannot wait until the next working day for treatment. It examines where the pain comes from and the patient asks what the pain is like in order to remedy the problem as specifically as possible. The treating dentist then decides whether the tooth needs to be removed, a filling needs to be replaced or whether the treatment can wait until the next working day – in this case, a pain reliever is usually prescribed to save the patient pain during the waiting time.

According to the emergency service regulations of the respective statutory dentist association, treatment in the emergency service is limited to the absolutely necessary dental assistance, further treatment then takes place at the family dentist. In the event of a tooth fracture, for example due to an accident, bleeding after a dental surgery or infection in the tooth area, further complications are averted and the basis for adequate further treatment is laid the following day. A visit to the dental emergency service is also possible with so-called “relative indications”, that is, diseases originating from the dental system with the symptom of toothache.

For those insured by law, treatment in the dental emergency service is paid for by the health insurance, the dentist receives the usual fees plus a surcharge per patient.

What about toothache from dentures?

With increasing age, more and more people are provided with dentures, for example to replace missing or damaged teeth and to restore the chewing function of a healthy jaw. Starting with fillings with which carious areas on the tooth are treated, over crowns and bridges to prostheses or implants.

These dentures are adapted exactly to the respective conditions in the patient’s mouth – however, over time it can happen that dentures that were once perfectly seated no longer fit properly. If, for example, teeth are missing in the mouth, the position of the remaining teeth can also change, so that, for example, a prosthesis or a bridge creates additional pressure on the opposite row of teeth. This can irritate the tooth nerve or gums and cause pain that can go up to the ears.

If your headache or earache lasts longer, you should visit your dentist as soon as possible and clarify the exact cause of the pain.

Removable dentures can cause pain due to changes in the jaw, the dentist also helps here. He checks the fit of the prosthesis and can adjust it if necessary to ensure an optimal fit again. Thorough cleaning can also help, because deposits on the prosthesis can irritate and ignite the gums, causing pain.

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