A toothache never seems to strike at the most convenient time. It never seems to be when you’re on your way to work and the dentist’s office is just a couple blocks out of the way. It’s always in the middle of the night or when you’re on vacation or your dentist can’t see you until later in the week.

So what can you do in the meantime to soothe the pain while waiting for your appointment?

7 Tricks to Alleviate a Toothache

  • Orajel, or similar over-the-counter products. If you can get to a drug store, they probably carry Orajel or a similar product to help provide temporary tooth pain relief. Of course, this isn’t always an option, so luckily, there are a lot of home remedies that work very well.
  • Clove oil. A little bit of clove oil applied to the aching tooth will help. This can work wonders even if you have a severe issue like a fractured or infected wisdom tooth. You can apply a little bit with a cotton swab or soak a cotton ball in it and hold that in your cheek. If you pour the oil on, that may result in a burning sensation in the gums, but depending on your level of tooth pain you might consider that a fair tradeoff for severe pain.
  • Powdered clove works almost as well as clove oil. You can mix it with a little water in order to form a paste and apply that right to the tooth. Clove-based solutions and Orajel do tend to numb a whole portion of the mouth, not just the tooth itself, so apply carefully if you still want to be able to speak coherently twenty minutes from now.
  • Ginger and cayenne make a strong paste for dealing with tooth pain. You need to apply these flavors cautiously when cooking, but the stronger the better when it comes to tooth pain relief. Make a paste, roll a cotton ball in it until saturated, and put that on the tooth. Avoid the gums and tongue if you can. This remedy works in large part thanks to capsaicin, which helps to block pain messages going from your nerves to your brain.
  • Salt water. Boil a teaspoon into a cup of water, let it cool, let it cool, and use it as a mouthwash. This helps to clean away debris in the mouth and draw out the fluid that causes swelling in the gums. Swish for thirty seconds and spit as often as needed.
  • Ice. Just like with a swollen knee or a bruised shoulder, ice goes a long way when your body’s in pain.
  • Okay this is a weird one, but some people swear by it: Take a paper bag, soak it in vinegar, and sprinkle one side with black pepper. Hold that against your cheek, and the warm sensation may distract you from the tooth pain. Weird, yes, but it may work.

Note that none of these remedies will actually fix the problem. If you have a serious tooth issue, make sure to set your appointment as soon as possible!