After I cracked my tooth, I experienced the most excruciating pain. These nine solutions helped me survive until I could see a dentist.
Oh, My Aching Tooth!
Excruciating: Extremely painful; causing intense suffering; unbearably distressing; torturing.
I am a stranger to pain. I say this because I do everything I can to avoid it!
My husband does everything he can to help me to avoid it, too. He knows that as long as I am in pain, life is unbearable—for him, as well as for me. With him at my side, we search high and low to find anything, whether it's been tested or not, that might relieve any pain I might be experiencing.
To be clear, I am not a doctor, and I can’t prescribe medication. However, after my experience with tooth pain, I have become something of an expert in this type of pain. I am writing this article to share what worked for me to get rid the pain fast. I can save readers time and money as they search for solutions to manage their own tooth pain.
Using Over-the-Counter Medicines for Fast Relief
Some medications will work for minor pain relief, no matter what kind of pain reliever you use. For me, when the pain was simply an annoyance, I used whatever I had in my medicine cabinet. I tried aspirin, ibuprofen, and acetaminophen (not all at the same time, of course). All of these pain relievers worked for my tooth pain.
My recommendation for the fastest tooth pain relief: acetaminophen.
Acetaminophen relieved my pain within 5-10 minutes, and I did not experience any adverse side effects. When I read the back of the label, I saw that this medication had the least number of adverse side effects in relation to my personal health concerns. So, I was happy that my pain could be relieved so quickly with this medication.
You should read the cautions and warnings on the label to determine which type of medication will be most beneficial with the fewest side effects with respect to your specific health concerns.
While all of these medications worked for me, I would be negligent if I didn't share some precautions that come with taking these medications. See the chart below to learn more about these medicines, as well as other tooth pain solutions.
9 Tooth Pain Solutions
|Medication||Labeled Uses||Labeled Warnings|
Provides temporary relief of headache, pain, and fever of colds, muscle pain, menstrual pain, toothache, and minor pain of arthritis.
Reye’s syndrome: Children and teenagers who have or who are recovering from chicken pox or flu-like symptoms should not use this product. When using this product, if changes in behavior with nausea and vomiting occur, consult a doctor because these symptoms could be an early sign of Reye’s syndrome, rare but serious illness. Allergy alert: Aspirin may cause a severe allergic reaction, which may include hives, facial swelling, asthma (wheezing), and shock.
Temporarily relieves minor aches and pains due to headache, muscular aches, backache, arthritis, the common cold, toothache, menstrual cramps, reduces fever.
Alcohol warning: If you consume 3 or more alcoholic drinks every day, ask your doctor whether you should take acetaminophen or other pain reliever/fever reducers. Acetaminophen may cause liver damage. Also, do not use with any other product containing acetaminophen, and stop using the product and ask your doctor if new symptoms occur, redness of swelling is present, pain gets worse or lasts more than 10 days, fever gets worse or lasts for more than 3 days. Finally, if you are pregnant or breastfeeding, ask a health professional before using acetaminophen.
Temporarily relieves minor aches and pain due to headache, muscular aches, menstrual cramps, the common cold, backache, toothache, minor pain or arthritis, and temporarily reduces fever.
Ask your doctor before use if you are pregnant, under a doctor’s care for a serious condition, age 60 or over; taking any other drug or have stomach problems. This product may cause a severe allergic reaction, especially in people allergic to aspirin. Symptoms may include hives, facial swelling, asthma (wheezing), shock, skin reddening, rash, and blisters. If an allergic reaction occurs, stop use and seek medical help right away. Do not use this product if you have ever had an allergic reaction to any aspirin reliever/fever reducer. This product may cause stomach bleeding. Long-term continuous use of this product may increase risk of heart attack or stroke.
Considered an analgesic (pain reliever).
Applying ice directly to the skin may cause the skin to burn. Do not place an ice pack directly on the skin. Always place a paper towel or cloth between the ice pack and the skin.
Gel tooth pain reliever.
Can cause a condition called methemoglobinemia, which includes headache, fatigue, confusion, fast heart rate, and feeling light-headed or short of breath, with a pale, blue, or gray appearance of your skin, lips, or fingernails. Reference: Drugs.com
An anti-inflammatory treatment that is intended to relieve inflammation in the body.
Ingesting garlic is normally safe, however too much garlic can cause a burning sensation in the mouth, stomach upset, heartburn, gas, nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea.
Instant Tooth Bonding Product
Repairs loose caps and lost fillings, and fractured crowns.
The adhesive is considered to be non-toxic, so there are no severe side effects unless you happen to be allergic to the adhesive used in the bonding product.
Salt Water Solution
Acts as an antibacterial by increasing the pH of the mouth, limiting the ability of bacteria to grow. Eases pain and swelling.
Because of the increased pH, the solution is high in alkaline which can erode tooth enamel. Be sure to spit out the solution after swishing in the mouth for a maximum of 30 seconds.
Stabilize the tooth. Keep bacteria out.
No side effects noted.
From a Dull Toothache to Excruciating Pain
The onslaught of my toothache began as a dull throb. In fact, at first, I just worked through the pain—no big deal. As time went on, however, that dull throb gradually turned into the most excruciating pain I had experienced in my life. And yes, I say this as someone who has experienced childbirth pain.
I repeat, the pain was excruciating. As long as it was dull, I could take over-the-counter medication and go about my day as usual, but when it transitioned to the next level, I could barely function.
Ice is considered to be an analgesic (pain reliever) and is often recommended for pain. An ice pack placed at the affected site is the universal "go to" solution for relieving pain. Just hold the ice pack (wrapped in a paper towel or cloth) to the face on the affected side. Hold the ice pack in this position for at least 20 minutes. Do this every four hours to help relieve pain.
When I hear "ice packs" and "20 minutes," I want to say, forget it! Twenty minutes is just too long to wait for tooth pain relief. I have to be fair and admit that after holding an ice pack next to the affected area for about 15 minutes, the pain subsided. At the same time, folks, when I have unbearable pain, I want solutions that work faster than that.
Read More From Patientslounge
Why I Didn't Immediately Go to a Dentist
Why didn’t I go to the dentist, you ask? Well, at the time, I didn’t have dental insurance—and although I was in extraordinary pain, I am very afraid of dentists. I didn't want to pay money out of pocket only to see a dentist who was likely to cause me even more pain.
I had a wonderful dentist in my hometown, from which I had recently moved, but I was now living in a new city, hundreds of miles away. I was too afraid to try someone new who wouldn't understand my severe aversion to pain.
I discovered that the reason my tooth began to ache so much was because the tooth had cracked. It had split vertically from the top down to the gum line. I was not going to be able to fix this on my own, so I had no choice but to call a local dentist.
However, the dentists I called said my cracked tooth didn't qualify as an emergency—so it would be a month before I could get an appointment. I scheduled an appointment with a dentist whose promotional material claimed, “Friendly staff with painless solutions for all your dental needs.” No pain? Well, that was the office for me. But, in the meantime, until my appointment, I had to manage the pain on my own.
Gel Tooth Pain Reliever
Probably the most widely known solution for immediate pain relief is a gel that is placed on the affected area. The active ingredient in these gels is benzocaine, which is a local anesthetic, or numbing medication. It works by blocking nerve signals in your body.
I used an over-the-counter gel containing benzocaine for a short period of time. It worked immediately. However, there are some precautions that should be taken seriously when using medication. See the table above for specific precautions.
Symptoms can reoccur after a very short period of time when using product like this, and up to two hours after application. Remember, I was in severe pain, so the side effects were a mere inconvenience to me. The gel worked very quickly for me—almost immediately.
But please take heed of the cautions listed on the label when you are using over-the-counter gel tooth pain relievers containing benzocaine.
Sometimes, untreated tooth infections can evolve into a condition called encephalitis, which is an acute inflammation of the brain. This condition can be treated—but if not it can lead to high fever, convulsions, coma, and in some cases, death.
Although my dentist could not treat my cracked tooth immediately, he set an "exploratory" appointment so that he could prescribe an antibiotic to ensure that I would not get an infection before my scheduled "analysis and treatment" appointment.
Alternative Antibiotic Solution: Garlic Oil
Garlic oil is known to relieve inflammation in the body. Some cultures use this oil as an anti-inflammatory treatment. Well, once I completed the 10-day course of antibiotics my dentist had prescribed, I figured I should do all that I could to continue the effect of the antibiotics.
I read all I could about alternative solutions to antibiotics and noticed that garlic oil was a common remedy. I started taking 1000 mg of garlic oil four times a day. Folks, I do believe it worked. While I cannot guarantee that it worked, I can attest to the fact that during the month I had to wait to see my dentist, I never developed an infection.
Instant Tooth Bonding Product
My tooth was split from the crown to the gum line. Instinctively, I knew that if food were to get trapped inside the crevice, I could develop an infection. My dentist appointment was a month away, so I had to devise a solution that would keep the two halves of my tooth held together tightly.
Many of my friends have had good experiences with tooth bonding products. I tried one that I found at the local pharmacy; the label promised "instant pain relief." I followed the directions religiously—"to the tooth," so to speak. It worked, but it did not work as quickly as the label promised and the bond did not last as long as I expected.
Perhaps I was not applying it correctly. If I ever have the misfortune of cracking another tooth or crown, I would be willing to give these products another try.
Temporary Tooth Wrapping
When the instant tooth bonding product did not work, I was in extraordinarily extreme pain. I had to find a solution—fast!
People say, "necessity is the mother of invention." Well, by this time, it was necessary for me to find relief for the awful pain I was experiencing.
I don't know how my brain came up with the idea, but somehow I invented a solution that relieved my tooth pain immediately! Don't ask me how I developed this strategy, but somehow I had the sense to:
- Make a solution of 1 teaspoon of salt to 1 cup of warm water. Somehow, I knew that salt water was a sanitizing solution for the mouth. I must have actually learned something way back in high school biochemestry class. In any event, the knowledge came in handy when I needed it the most.
- Swirl and rinse the mouth with the salt water solution for about one minute. Sip and swirl for about 15 seconds, then spit out the salt water. I sipped, swirled, and spit three times. During the process, I could feel the pain subsiding. I knew I was on to something wonderful.
- Wrap a string of dental floss tape around the tooth. I wrapped dental floss tape around my tooth three times: once to secure the bond, another to enforce the bond, and a third time to be able to tie the floss without jeopardizing the initial bond. Then, I cut the excess floss with a pair of sterilized scissors.
I was pleasantly surprised. After wrapping my tooth, the tooth pain stopped. I was able to eat and feel normal almost immediately afterward.
Incidentally, when I mentioned to the dentist that I was wrapping my tooth with dental floss, he said he'd never heard of anything like it. He said it was an ingenious idea and that I should keep doing it until I could get in for my appointment.
The tooth was wrapped securely. Food particles and bacteria were blocked, which lessened the chance of infection. I felt good about how I was protecting myself from infection, so at that moment, I was a very happy camper!
The tooth wrapping strategy proved to be an excellent solution. From that day forward, my pain was relieved until the day that I could go in to see my new dentist.
Treat Tooth Pain Seriously
Tooth pain can be a sign of underlying problems and should always be taken seriously. Most people do not have to endure tooth pain for as long as I did, but if you find yourself experiencing this type of pain, rest assured that there are viable over-the-counter medications, as well as home remedies, to help you stop the pain in its tracks.
Consider ice as an analgesic. It doesn't work immediately, but it can be used in conjunction with medications that work more quickly.
For fast relief, consider over-the-counter topical pain relieving gel. You can also take aspirin, ibuprofen, or acetaminophen. And, if you have a tooth that is split vertically, consider wrapping it with dental floss tape.
These are my temporary solutions for fast tooth pain relief. Of course for a more long-term solution, I recommend seeing your dentist—preferably one who specializes in "pain free" dental solutions.
This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and does not substitute for diagnosis, prognosis, treatment, prescription, and/or dietary advice from a licensed health professional. Drugs, supplements, and natural remedies may have dangerous side effects. If pregnant or nursing, consult with a qualified provider on an individual basis. Seek immediate help if you are experiencing a medical emergency.
© 2012 Marlene Bertrand
Marlene Bertrand (author) from USA on January 04, 2020:
Hello Lyda, I am very sorry to hear about your boyfriend's tooth pain. Unfortunately, I am not a doctor and I am only familiar with the pain solutions shared in this article. I hope he can be out of pain soon.
Lyda on December 28, 2019:
My boyfriend has super bad tooth pain, he can barley move his head without crying from the tooth. He does not have insurance at the moment (hes working on it) and can afford to get an appointment. What can we do! (We know it needs pull just dont have the money for it)
Marlene Bertrand (author) from USA on January 12, 2018:
Hi Victoria. Thank you for letting me know that these remedies worked to give you some relief. It gives me joy to know that this article helped you.
Victoria on December 31, 2017:
Super helpful & definetly worked for me til my appointment with my dentist thank u so much I’m thankful for the relief
Marlene Bertrand (author) from USA on October 05, 2017:
Thank you Zack. I hope that if you ever have tooth pain, you would be able to find some relief in one or more of these solutions.
zack on October 04, 2017:
useful article thanks
Marlene Bertrand (author) from USA on September 02, 2017:
Hi Kristy. These are all temporary solutions to try until you can get to the dentist. Ultimately, you want to see a dentist. Yes, in some cases the dentist may choose to pull the tooth.
kristy on September 01, 2017:
None of these worked, nothing will ever work except to get tooth pulled.
Marlene Bertrand (author) from USA on July 22, 2017:
Hello Jesselle. Thank you for reading my article. Unfortunately, I am not a dentist - just an ordinary person sharing some solutions that have helped me get rid of tooth pain. Your dentist would be able to help you discover how to keep teeth from decaying.
Marlene Bertrand (author) from USA on July 03, 2017:
Hello Ajit Kumar, I am sorry to hear of your tooth pain. My solutions are for helping to find relief for immediate pain until you can get to a dentist. My ideas are not meant to be a "cure" for tooth pain. I hope you are able to see a dentist soon so that you can find out what is the cause of the tooth pain.
Marlene Bertrand (author) from USA on June 12, 2017:
Hi Raju. I am not a dentist, but I would say if you have permanent tooth pain a dentist should be consulted.