Toothaches are never enjoyable, but they can be even more irritating at night. Most people struggle to fall asleep and stay asleep when they’re dealing with toothaches, and it’s very hard to find an affordable emergency dentist that provides care late at night. Getting through the night can allow dental patients to schedule appointments with their normal dentists, and it doesn’t have to be terrible. Try the following nine home remedies to stop a toothache at night before scheduling that crucial appointment in the morning.

1. Over-the-Counter Pain Medications

Over-the-counter (OTC) pain medications like ibuprofen and acetaminophen offer quick and easy ways for people to get relief for mild toothaches at night while they wait for a new dentist to return their calls. Unfortunately, no OTC medication will be effective for managing severe pain by itself.

If the pain isn’t severe, just make sure to stay within the manufacturer’s recommended dosage, and use OTC pain medications only for as long as they’re needed. Both ibuprofen and acetaminophen can cause health complications if they’re used incorrectly.

2. Apply a Cold Compress

Cold compresses can be quite effective for reducing pain associated with a toothache. Before going to bed, apply a bag of ice or frozen peas wrapped in a towel to the affected area from outside the mouth.

It’s fine to apply cold compresses for 15 to 20 minutes every few hours, which can help to control pain in the evening before bed. However, patients awaiting dental care should be careful not to fall asleep with the cold compresses in place. Prolonged cold exposure can cause skin and tissue damage.

3. Elevate the Head

For some people, just using an extra pillow or two at night may help to relieve the pain from a toothache enough that they can fall asleep. Elevating the head using extra pillows can help to prevent blood from pooling in the area, which can cause inflammation and extra pain.

4. Apply Medicated Ointments

Medicated ointments can help to numb the area, reducing pain and making it easier to fall asleep. There are multiple OTC numbing ointments and gels available, most of which contain topical anesthetics such as benzocaine. While they can be quite effective in adults, products containing benzocaine should not be administered to young children.

5. Use a Saltwater Rinse

Saltwater rinses are one of the oldest home remedies around for toothaches, and they’re just as effective now as ever. There are a few reasons that salt rinses can help to alleviate toothaches, at least temporarily. Salt rinses can:

  • Act as natural antibacterials to reduce inflammation
  • Protect damaged teeth from infection
  • Remove food particles or debris stuck in the teeth and gums

The combined effect of all these benefits is to temporarily alleviate the pain from a toothache. Although saltwater rinses can be beneficial, keep in mind that they don’t replace the need for professional dental care. It’s perfectly fine to use salt water rinses throughout the day to control pain, but they won’t address the underlying problem causing the toothache.

6. Try a Hydrogen Peroxide Rinse

Hydrogen peroxide rinses have been shown to be effective for managing the symptoms of periodontitis, in particular. Periodontitis can cause tooth and gum soreness, bleeding, and the loosening of teeth in their sockets. Hydrogen peroxide rinses can help to alleviate these symptoms while simultaneously reducing plaque.

If a patient knows his or her tooth pain is caused by this serious gum disease, it’s worth trying, but it won’t necessarily help with ordinary toothaches. Those who want to try this solution should make a point of using food-grade hydrogen peroxide, diluting it in a 50/50 mixture with water. Make sure not to swallow the hydrogen peroxide mix, and don’t give it to children who are too young to guarantee that they will spit it back out.

7. Apply Peppermint Tea Bags

Peppermint contains antioxidant and antibacterial compounds along with the active ingredient menthol. Menthol can have a mild numbing effect, which combines with the other beneficial impacts of peppermint tea to help relieve toothache pain.

There are two ways to use peppermint tea to alleviate toothaches. Some people prefer to brew it as usual and swish the tea around in their mouths, while others suck on the tea bags. Either solution is fine.

8. Use Cloves

Cloves contain a compound called eugenol, which has been shown to reduce tooth pain. Patients often apply cloves to their gums and empty sockets following tooth extractions to manage pain and inflammation, and the same principle applies to toothaches. Eugenol acts as an analgesic, or numbing agent.

The best way to apply cloves for a toothache is to grind them and soak them in water to create a paste. Apply the paste directly to the affected tooth or fill an empty tea bag with it and apply the tea bag to the mouth. Alternatively, people can also suck on a single clove or gently chew on it, then leave it sitting on or near the painful tooth to help quell their pain.

9. Chew a Clove of Garlic

Cloves of garlic can be just as effective as actual cloves for quelling toothaches. They contain allicin, which has strong antibacterial properties that can help to clean the area to alleviate cavities and pain. Just chew a clove of garlic, then let it sit on or near the affected tooth. Keep in mind that, as with cloves, the taste can be quite strong, which means garlic may not be a viable solution for everyone.

Get to a Dentist Right Away

While the home remedies and OTC solutions described above can help people suffering from toothaches control their pain so they can fall asleep at night, they’re not intended to be used as long-term solutions. The most important step that anyone with a toothache can take is to schedule an appointment with a dentist. The dentist can identify the underlying cause of a patient’s pain and implement a treatment plan to resolve it permanently.