The best method to get out of tooth or gum pain while you wait to see the dentist
Guest Editor: Rita Hung DMD, MPH, MSD
You may have arrived here because you started having intense aching in your tooth, jaw or ear, can’t even drink cold water without sharp, severe pain, or can’t chew on that side at all. Unfortunately, you may have a toothache or other dental problem!
Of course, the best solution is to see your dentist as soon as possible. While home remedies may help relieve the symptoms, the reason your having pain in the first place is because there’s something that may need treatment. But this advice isn’t all that helpful when you can’t see your dentist right away and the pain is unbearable!
Here I’m sharing the best method to get out of toothaches or gum pain while you wait to see the dentist!
The 3-3-3 Method for tooth pain
Tooth or gum pain is largely due to inflammation or swelling. Reduce the swelling and you’ll reduce the pain. The best way to reduce this inflammation in the short-term is with the 3-3-3 method: 3 ibuprofen (600 mg total) 3 times a day for 3 days.
What not to do: Don’t take the ibuprofen and stop once you start to get pain relief. The trick is to keep the ibuprofen levels up to reduce the inflammation. If you stop, then it’ll take a while before the ibuprofen will kick in again.
Please keep in mind that this only treats the symptoms and does nothing to address the root cause of your pain. Also, make sure you can take ibuprofen and it doesn’t interfere with any health condition or medication you are already taking. (Check with your doctor if you aren’t sure.)
Natural toothache relief
If you can’t take ibuprofen or if you need extra relief, there are natural home remedies you can use to reduce the pain.
Keep the area cold: Cold treatment constricts blood vessels helping to reduce swelling and numb pain. If you don’t have a cold pack, frozen peas or a plastic bag with half water and half ice works just as well.
Salt water rinse: Slowly stir in salt into a cup of hot water. Keep adding until you see salt crystals at the bottom that are no longer dissolving. Rinse with this solution for 30 seconds 4-5 times a day to reduce gum inflammation. This is especially helpful if you have gum pain or something stuck between the teeth like a seed.
Clove Oil: This is an essential oil that has been used for decades as a way to calm inflammation. Apply a small amount with a cotton swab to the affected area. This works best if you can directly apply the oil to the affected area like if there is an exposed nerve due to a deep cavity or your pain in your gums.
Pillows: Keep your head elevated. Stack a couple pillows when you sleep to keep your head higher than your heart. Resting totally flat allows blood flow to the head and may make swelling and pain worse.
When making your dental appointment:
Should I go to the emergency room?
Don’t hesitate to go straight to the ER if you have:
What is causing the pain?
There are many causes of tooth/gum pain, but here are a few common ones:
If you are in pain right now, I hope you learned some tips that help and I wish you a speedy recovery!
Dr. Rita Hung is an endodontist or root canal specialist that works to save teeth, diagnosing and relieving dental pain everyday.