If you have a toothache, it’s important to figure out what’s at the root of your discomfort. From there, you can determine how to best relieve any pain, swelling, or other symptoms.

A regular salt water rinse and cold compress application can typically remedy minor irritation, but more serious toothaches may require a dentist’s intervention.

If your symptoms persist for more than a day or two, see your dentist. They can provide guidance on how to relieve your symptoms and prevent future pain.

You should also talk to your dentist before using any of the following remedies if you’re pregnant, breastfeeding, or have any medical condition that may be impacted by herbal ingredients.

Keep reading to learn more.

For many people, a salt water rinse is an effective first-line treatment. Salt water is a natural disinfectant, and it can help loosen food particles and debris that may be stuck in between your teeth. Treating a toothache with salt water can also help reduce inflammation and heal any oral wounds.

To use this approach, mix 1/2 teaspoon (tsp) of salt into a glass of warm water and use it as a mouthwash.

A hydrogen peroxide rinse may also help to relieve pain and inflammation. In addition to killing bacteria, hydrogen peroxide can reduce plaque and heal bleeding gums.

Make sure you properly dilute the hydrogen peroxide. To do this, mix 3 percent hydrogen peroxide with equal parts water and use it as a mouthwash. Don’t swallow it.

You may use a cold compress to relieve any pain you’re experiencing, especially if any type of trauma has caused your toothache. When you apply a cold compress, it causes the blood vessels in the area to constrict. This makes pain less severe. The cold can also reduce any swelling and inflammation.

To use this approach, hold a towel-wrapped bag of ice to the affected area for 20 minutes at a time. You can repeat this every few hours.

Peppermint tea bags can be used to numb pain and soothe sensitive gums.

To do this, allow a used tea bag to cool down before applying it to the affected area. It should still be slightly warm.

You can also swap approaches and use this to cool, rather than warm, the area. To do this, put a used tea bag in the freezer for a couple of minutes to chill it and then apply the bag to your tooth. Learn more about the health benefits of peppermint.

For thousands of years, garlic has been recognized and used for its medicinal properties. Not only can it kill harmful bacteria that cause dental plaque, but it can also act as a pain reliever.

To use this, crush a garlic clove to create a paste and apply it to the affected area. You may wish to add a tiny bit of salt. Alternatively, you can slowly chew a clove of fresh garlic.

Vanilla extract contains alcohol, which can help to numb pain. Its proven antioxidant properties also make it an effective healer.

To use this, dab a small amount of vanilla extract onto your finger or a cotton ball. Apply it directly to the affected area a few times per day.

You can do the following remedies at home, but you may need to source the ingredients. All of the items are available at your local health food store or online. Your mouth, teeth, and gums are likely sensitive at this time, so it’s especially important to purchase these ingredients from a reputable manufacturer. This can reduce your risk of potential irritation.

Clove has been used to treat toothaches throughout history, because the oil can effectively numb pain and reduce inflammation. It contains eugenol, which is a natural antiseptic.

To use this approach, dab a small amount of clove oil onto a cotton ball and apply it to the affected area. You may want to dilute the clove oil with a few drops of a carrier oil, like olive oil, or water. Do this a few times per day.

You can also add a drop of clove oil to a small glass of water and make a mouthwash.

Guava leaves have anti-inflammatory properties that can help heal wounds. They also have antimicrobial activity that can aid in oral care.

To use this, chew on fresh guava leaves or add crushed guava leaves to boiling water to make a mouthwash.

Wheatgrass has countless healing properties and can work to heal your body from the inside if taken internally. It can relieve inflammation in your mouth and prevent infections. Its high chlorophyll content can also fight bacteria.

To use this, simply use wheatgrass juice as a mouthwash.

Thyme also has powerful antibacterial and antioxidant properties that can help to treat toothaches.

To use this, dab a few drops of thyme essential oil and a few drops of water onto a cotton ball. After diluting the oil with the water, apply it to the affected area.

You can also add a drop of the oil to a small glass of water and make a mouthwash.

Keep reading: 5 Surprising natural pain killers »

If your toothache is severe or is the result of a more serious medical condition, you need to see your dentist so you can treat it properly. Many toothaches will require medical attention. An over-the-counter pain reliever such as ibuprofen could help until you see a dentist.

You should also see your dentist if you experience any of the following symptoms:

  • fever
  • trouble breathing or swallowing
  • general pain that lasts more than one or two days
  • swelling
  • pain when you bite
  • abnormally red gums
  • foul-tasting discharge, or pus

Keep reading: 5 Oral health warning signs »

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