21 Home Remedies for a Toothache Emergency


By Gaye Levy

Contributing Writer for Wake Up World

Most of us have made some provision for first aid care in the event of a disaster or other emergency. But how many of us have prepared for a dental emergency? Having an unexpected toothache, abscess or gum problem is something that indeed happens from time to time.

The only time I have had a major toothache was when I was away from home and nowhere near a dentist. Luckily, I had some clove oil in my first aid kit and that got me through until I returned home and had a root canal. Still, it was hardly what I would call a fun experience and something I wish I could have avoided in the first place.

When a dental emergency occurs and it is in the middle of the night, you are away from home, or are in the middle of a SHTF situation, it is time to turn to some tried and and true home remedies to get you through. These are old fashioned remedies that, when coupled with a practical application of essential oils, will mean the difference between suffering in pain or simply dealing with a mild annoyance.

So what are some of those home remedies?

This week I am sharing some 21 home remedies for a toothache that have been compiled by my colleague ‘Above Average’ Joe at SurvivalLife.com.

In addition, I am sharing a suggestion or two for dealing with a tooth that shatters, chips or breaks or at an inopportune time, namely when there is no dentist around to fix it.

21 Home Remedies for a Toothache

You can’t schedule a toothache and it never fails that a major toothache hits when it’s late at night and your dentist’s office is closed, or you’re somewhere remote and getting to a dentist any time soon is just not an option.

Anyone who has ever had the misfortune of a toothache knows that it is not just your mouth that hurts. A toothache can be felt in just about every part of your body. I have had a few so bad that they made me sick to my stomach from the pain alone.

Although in most cases only a doctor/dentist can cure the source of the problem, this list of treatments and pain relief remedies should get you through until you can visit the dentist.

Directions: Apply the below remedies directly to both the problem tooth and surrounding gums unless otherwise directed. For items that direct you to chew, or for liquids that are to be swished around inside mouth, direct the liquid on and around the sore tooth as much as possible. Do not swallow liquids. Rinse your mouth and spit them out when done.

1. Salt Water: Mix a heaping tablespoon full of salt in a small glass of warm water; swirl around inside your mouth for as long as you can, spit out. Repeat as needed.

2. Hydrogen Peroxide: Swoosh a bit of hydrogen peroxide. If the taste is too horrid for you, try diluting with a bit of water.

3. Alcohol: Swoosh a bit of whiskey, scotch, brandy or vodka. A strong mouthwash that contains alcohol will do the trick too.

4. Vanilla Extract: Saturate a cotton ball with vanilla and hold in place. Can also use a cotton swab dipped in extract. Other extracts that have the same effect are: Almond Extract, Peppermint Extract and Lemon Extract.

5. Tea Tree Oil: Just a drop or two will do the trick. You can also add some to a cotton swab and hold in place or add a few drops of tea tree oil to a small glass of lukewarm to warm water and rinse your mouth with it.

6. Oil Of Oregano: Mix a few drops with a bit of olive oil, then saturate a cotton ball with mixture. Can replace the olive oil with lukewarm water if preferred.

7. Apple Cider Vinegar: Soak a cotton ball with apple cider vinegar (ACV) and hold it in place. Can also try regular household vinegar.

8. Ginger Root: Take a fresh piece of ginger and chew it a bit.

9. Garlic: Take a clove of garlic, smash it and apply (settle it inside cheek). You can also mash some garlic with salt.

10. Peppermint Leaves: Chew on fresh peppermint leaves. You can also dried leaves, just hold them in place.

11. Potato: Cut a fresh piece of potato (raw, skin off) and hold in place. Can also pound a piece of raw potato, mix in a bit of salt and use the mash.

12. Lime: Cut a slice or wedge of lime and apply, bite into it if you can to release some of the juice.

13. Onion: Slice a piece of fresh onion and hold it inside your mouth. The onion needs to be freshly cut (so it provides a bit of onion juice).

14. Plantain: Chew up a fresh plantain leaf. If you’re too sore to chew, use the other side of your mouth. Once the leaf is macerated a bit apply it to the problem area and hold in place.

15. Cucumber: Slice a fresh piece of cucumber and hold it over the sore area. If refrigerated, you might want to bring the cucumber to room temperature before using (if sensitive to cold) otherwise a cool piece can be soothing.You can also mash a piece with a bit of salt and pack it around the sore tooth.

16. Cayenne Pepper: Make a paste with cayenne pepper and water.

17. Black Pepper: You can use this full strength or make a mix of pepper and salt.

18. Baking Soda: Take a cotton swab and moisten it with a bit of water, dip it in baking soda (coat the swab really well with baking soda) then apply. You can also make a mouth rinse by mixing a heaping spoonful of baking soda in a small glass of lukewarm to warm water, dissolve the soda then swish the mixture in your mouth.

19. Cloves: This is remedy from the old timers (my great grandparents), rest a clove against the sore area until pain goes away. You can also use a drop or two of clove oil (BE CAREFUL: too much can be toxic) or make a thick paste of ground cloves and water or ground cloves and olive oil.

20. Tea: Make a fresh cup of tea then take the used tea bag (still warm) and stick it in your mouth. Careful not to tear the bag. The tannins that are naturally in tea leaves can help numb things.

21. Ice Pack: Cover an ice pack with a face cloth or towel then hold over your cheek where the problem is. This will help numb things. Make sure that you have some type of cloth between your skin and the ice, otherwise you can severely damage your skin.If that doesn’t work, try the opposite–a hot compress (making sure that it is not so hot as to scald your skin).

Joe’s Tips

If the pain is unbearable and there’s no dentist available, call your local hospital’s emergency room. Chances are they have a dentist on call that can treat you – for a fee of course.

Try gently brushing your teeth and flossing – this might bring some relief.

One old time remedy that you should not follow is to place an aspirin against the sore tooth. You will have just as much if not more of an effect by swallowing the aspirin. Aspirin is actually an acid (acetylsalicylic acid to be exact) and placing it directly against your gums or teeth will cause corrosion of your teeth and acid burns on your gums.

If the side of your face is in severe pain and it feels like you’re going to lose your mind (I’ve been there, done that) it could be a sinus infection or an allergy that affects your sinuses rather than a problem tooth (even though it definitely feels like it). Try taking a decongestant or if that is not available, a shower set on the hottest setting may help clear your sinus cavities. This might help relieve things until you get to a doctor. Chances are a prescription antibiotic is what you’ll need to clear up the sinus infection.

If it is a sinus infection please don’t wait to get it taken care of! I have permanent damage to my left eardrum from a sinus infection that became so congested it literally burst my eardrum as a pressure relief valve.

The Final Word From Joe

These are notes I have collected in my personal life over the years, in my own research as well as tips gathered from my grandparents and great grandparents. They are not by any means professional medical advice and a trained dentist should always be contacted as soon as possible.

If you have a toothache, there is a reason for it and it’s best to have it taken care of by a professional, rather than having it treated at home in hopes that the underlying issue will go away on its own. If it’s infected (ie. your gum area is swollen) don’t delay in getting professional medical care.

My Tooth Just Broke…. Now What?

Stuff happens. Sometimes a tooth will actually shatter or chip. Sometimes a major piece of it will actually break off. What then?

If you are not experiencing any pain, you can take an emery board (nail file) and gently smooth away the rough edges of the tooth.

On the other hand, if you are experiencing pain or hot and cold sensitivity, try applying some of the home remedies above plus an application of Sensodyne toothpaste to the affected area. That plus some paracetamol or ibuprofen will get you by until you have an opportunity to see a dental professional.

The Final Word from Gaye

In addition to these suggestions, I encourage you to pick a copy of “Where There Is No Dentist”. This highly regarded book will teach you how to be your own dentist. An electronic copy is available for $4 at the Hesperian website or you can pick up a print or Kindle copy on Amazon.

It also would not hurt to have a week’s supply of antibiotics on hand. Check with your doctor or dentist about an emergency prescription or pick up some fish antibiotics, which are the same thing and can be used for extreme emergency purposes. For more information on the use of antibiotics, read Antibiotics for Long Term Survival.

Finally, remember that if you are in extreme pain and there is a doctor available, do not be shy. Every doctor I know is willing to treat the pain, and if applicable an infection, until a dental professional is available.

Further articles by Gaye Levy

About Gaye Levy

Gaye Levy, also known as the Survival Woman, grew up and attended school in the Greater Seattle area. After spending many years as an executive in the software industry, she started a specialized accounting practice offering contract CFO work to emerging high tech and service industries. She has now abandoned city life and has moved to a serenely beautiful rural area on an island in NW Washington State. She lives and teaches the principles of a sustainable and self-reliant lifestyle through her website at BackdoorSurvival.com.

At Backdoor Survival, Gaye speaks her mind and delivers her message of prepping with optimism and grace, regardless of the uncertain times and mayhem swirling around us.

You can find Gaye through her website at Backdoor Survival, on the Backdoor Survival Page on Facebook, and as Survival Woman on Twitter.

About ‘Above Average’ Joe

A little about me: I am just an average guy with a passion for learning. I am excited to share the things I learn with you but I am most interested in learning from you. Survival Life is more than just one man. It is a growing and living community of individuals; all with the desire to be prepared to survive and thrive no matter what this world throws at us. I want to welcome you to the Survival Life community and look forward to growing with you! Thank you, Gaye, for inviting me to share the Survival Life with your readers!

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Disclaimer: This article is not intended to provide medical or dental advice, diagnosis or treatment.

  • Ruud Leeflang

    The best thing is to gargle with MMS
    = Master Mineral Supplement
    And its gone within the hour.

  • Sarah

    Olive Leaf Extract also helps to bring swelling down if you have an infection, with toothache.

  • t walker


  • Peter Gumm

    In the UK we have “Oragel” made by Church & Dwight UK Ltd. It’s a local anesthetic applied on the end of your finger or a cotton swab.
    It’s just like having a jab at the dentist’s, & you can get it without prescription.

  • Jayne

    Just an FYI, in my experience doctors, especially ER doctors are less than helpful with giving you pain medication for tooth problems. They’ll give you antibiotics and maybe numb you up but they won’t give you pain medication. They usually assume you are drug seeking, even if you are swollen with an obvious problem.

  • Lea Nelson

    I appreciated all your alternative remedies for a toothache. I’ve used many of them and found them suitable for temporary relief of pain. But, there’s one remedy I got from my Anthroposophic doctor which actually healed my ‘out of my head in pain toothache’ and that’s putting a strong propolis tincture on cotton and packing the tooth with that. It adheres well enough to stay on overnight and while eating and drinking, if you’re careful and chew on the opposite side of your mouth. Try it!

  • ralph Nimmann

    A 100% safe alternative is a homeopathic remedy:
    Belladonna 30C – 2 tablets for an adult, one for children. Works like magic. Not to be taken with strong etheric oils.
    Avoid antibiotics! They do much more harm by destroying the body’s immune system. Ginger is a natural antibiotic and an excellent alternative.

  • Anothereno

    Tried the Garlic last time, I’d advise against it, turns out i had an infection the garlic caused it to puff up full of puss in under an hour and it nearly choked me . It did help with the pain though.