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A toothache usually means a visit to the dentist. The pain could have any number of causes, from simple decay to a serious abscess, and should be checked out by a professional. But if the pain strikes on the weekend, in the evening or when you're out of town, you may have to wait hours or even a day or two for an appointment. Over-the-counter treatments can provide some relief in the meantime.
Over-the-counter pain relievers such as aspirin, ibuprofen and acetaminophen may help ease a painful tooth. In an article in "Backwoods Home Magazine," dentist Gary F. Arnet recommends 800 mg of ibuprofen every eight hours 2. The "Doctors Book of Home Remedies" has some advice about an old wives' tale. According to the book, placing an aspirin directly on the sore gum is a bad idea. Instead of easing pain, it will cause some of its own by irritating and burning the gum. Pain relief comes only through taking the medicine internally.
- Over-the-counter pain relievers such as aspirin, ibuprofen and acetaminophen may help ease a painful tooth.
- In an article in "Backwoods Home Magazine," dentist Gary F. Arnet recommends 800 mg of ibuprofen every eight hours 2.
Oil of Cloves
Abscess Tooth Pain & Cloves
Oil of cloves, also known as eugenol, is an ingredient in some over-the-counter toothache relievers, such as the brand names Red Cross Toothache Medicine and Dent's Toothache Drops. Drugstores may also carry the oil itself, according to the "Doctors Book of Home Remedies." A small amount of oil can be applied directly to the tooth or placed on a cotton ball and held to the aching gum, the book says. Dr. Arnet warns, however, that the potent oil should not be allowed to wander elsewhere in the mouth because it may cause chemical burns. Medline Plus, a website from the U.S. National Library of Medicine and the National Institutes of Health, agrees that the oil poses some risk, saying that frequent application in the mouth can cause damage to the gums and other oral structures 4. The Food and Drug Administration no longer considers eugenol effective against toothache, citing a lack of evidence.
- Oil of cloves, also known as eugenol, is an ingredient in some over-the-counter toothache relievers, such as the brand names Red Cross Toothache Medicine and Dent's Toothache Drops.
- Medline Plus, a website from the U.S. National Library of Medicine and the National Institutes of Health, agrees that the oil poses some risk, saying that frequent application in the mouth can cause damage to the gums and other oral structures 4.
Benzocaine is the active ingredient in Orajel and Anbesol products for toothache pain, with concentrations ranging from 10 percent in regular strength formulas up to 20 percent in severe pain formulas 3. Dent's Toothache Drops also contain benzocaine, which numbs the nerves in the area where it's applied, providing pain relief for a time 3. Toothache sufferers should not use these products if they've ever had an allergic reaction to any anesthetic in the "caine" family -- that is, a word with the suffix "caine."
Abscess Tooth Pain & Cloves
How to Get Rid of a Toothache Fast
How to Use Clove Oil For a Toothache
Remedies for a Severe Toothache
Tooth Pain & Sinus Congestion
Bad Breath From Tooth Infection
Pain Relief for Gum Infection
Sore Gums After an Extraction
A Toothache Without a Cavity
How to Cure a Gum Abscess
- MayoClinic.com: Toothache--First Aid
- Backwoods Home Magazine: No Dentist? Oh, No!
- Orajel: Toothache Pain
- Medline Plus: Clove
- Sanders JL, Houck RC. Dental Abscess. [Updated 2019 Jun 30]. In: StatPearls [Internet]. Treasure Island (FL): StatPearls Publishing; 2020 Jan-. Available from: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK493149/
- Baatsch B, Zimmer S, Rodrigues recchia D, Büssing A. Complementary and alternative therapies in dentistry and characteristics of dentists who recommend them. Complement Ther Med. 2017;35:64-69.
- Alqareer A, Alyahya A, Andersson L. The effect of clove and benzocaine versus placebo as topical anesthetics. J Dent. 2006;34(10):747-50.
- Marya CM, Satija G, J A, Nagpal R, Kapoor R, Ahmad A. In vitro inhibitory effect of clove essential oil and its two active principles on tooth decalcification by apple juice. Int J Dent. 2012;2012:759618. doi:10.1155/2012/759618
- Kamkar Asl M, Nazariborun A, Hosseini M. Analgesic effect of the aqueous and ethanolic extracts of clove. Avicenna J Phytomed. 2013;3(2):186–192.
- Sisson D, Balmer C. A chemical burn from a garlic poultice applied to the face to treat toothache: a case report. Prim Dent J. 2014;3(1):28-9.
- Bagga S, Thomas BS, Bhat M. Garlic burn as self-inflicted mucosal injury--a case report and review of the literature. Quintessence Int. 2008;39(6):491–494.
- Rostami AM, Brooks JK. Intraoral chemical burn from use of 3% hydrogen peroxide. Gen Dent. 2011;59(6):504–506.
- Alqareer A, Alyahya A, Andersson L. The effect of clove and benzocaine versus placebo as topical anesthetics. J Dent. 2006 Nov;34(10):747-50.
- Baatsch B, Zimmer S, Recchia DR, Büssing A. Complementary and alternative therapies in dentistry and characteristics of dentists who recommend them. Complementary Therapies in Medicine. 2017;35:64-69.
- Sisson D, Balmer C. A Chemical Burn from a Garlic Poultice Applied to the Face to Treat Toothache: A Case Report. Primary Dental Journal. 2014;3(1):28-29.
Elizabeth Nickelaid is an editor and writer with more than 20 years' experience in the newspaper industry. She has won state and national awards for headline writing and has collaborated with Pulitzer Prize-winning reporters. She has a Bachelor of Arts degree in English from Wake Forest University.