What can I do About a Bad Toothache?

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  • Written By: Madeleine A.
  • Edited By: W. Everett
  • Last Modified Date: 27 February 2020
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Taking an over-the-counter pain medication can help reduce the pain of a bad toothache. Medications such as ibuprofen can significantly reduce pain and swelling of a toothache, but analgesics such as acetaminophen only help reduce pain. Sometimes a bacterial infection is the cause of a bad toothache, and when this occurs, the dentist generally recommends an oral antibiotics. Once the antibiotics have been complete and the infection has subsided, the bad toothache will usually resolve. Some home remedies for a bad toothache can include rinsing the mouth with salt water, or applying numbing gels or clove oil to the aching tooth.

An effective home remedy for relieving a bad toothache is rinsing the mouth with warm salt water. This preparation has antiseptic properties and can help a throbbing toothache. When rinsing the mouth with salt water, care should be taken not to swallow too much of it. Although the mixture is non-toxic, swallowing salt in high concentrations can be detrimental in those who have hypertension, or high blood pressure. In addition, swallowing too much salt water can cause stomach distress include nausea and diarrhea.


When babies begin teething, pediatricians often recommend numbing gels to relieve pain. These gels can also be used for a bad toothache. Since they are used for babies, they are are thought to be very safe, and can be used as needed, per packaging directions. The effect is very temporary, but it gives the toothache sufferer a break between episodic pain. After applying a numbing gel, the hands should be thoroughly washed because getting this gel in the eyes can cause an unpleasant sensation.

Natural remedies for a toothache can help symptoms, but in cases where severe toothache are present, the dentist should be notified. If an infection is present, and antibiotics for a toothache are not provided, bacteria can migrate to the sinuses or throat and cause a secondary infection. It is also crucial that the antibiotics be completed because if the patient does not finish his course of treatment, the infection might not completely go away, or it might return as a more virulent strain.

Applying clove oil to a bad toothache can sometimes help with pain as well. Clove oil helps reduce inflammation and it also has natural healing properties. Using a toothpaste for sensitive teeth can also provide relief in certain instances of a bad toothache too. People should consult with their dentists before trying alternative or natural remedies for a toothache, and in extreme cases where medications and other remedies are ineffective for severe pain, the dentist might need to extract the tooth.


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