Toothaches can occur for a number of reasons, including cavities, infected gums, tooth decay, grinding your teeth, or flossing too aggressively. Regardless of the reason, toothaches are uncomfortable and you’ll want relief fast.

In most cases, you’ll need to schedule a visit to a dentist as soon as you feel a toothache coming on. But there are home remedies that can help relieve the pain while you wait. One of those remedies is garlic.

You may think of garlic as more of a staple in Italian cooking than a way to relieve toothache pain, but it’s been touted for its medicinal qualities for centuries.

One of the most well-known compounds in garlic is allicin, which has antibacterial and antimicrobial properties that can help kill some of the bacteria associated with toothaches. Allicin is found in fresh garlic after it is crushed or cut.

Can garlic powder treat a toothache?

If you don’t have fresh garlic on hand, you may be tempted to use garlic powder to reduce your tooth pain. However, garlic powder does not contain allicin, so it will not help with tooth pain.

Allicin is actually not found in whole garlic, either, but it’s created when the cloves are crushed, chewed, chopped, or sliced and is only present for a brief period of time.

Garlic is a healthy part of a diet and it may temporarily help relieve toothaches. However, before you try this at home, be aware of the potential side effects of eating raw garlic, such as:

Make sure you are using fresh garlic.

Chew a garlic clove

  1. Using the affected tooth, gently chew on a peeled clove of garlic. This will release allicin that kills bacteria that may be partially responsible for your pain.
  2. Let the chewed clove rest on the tooth.

Make a paste

  1. Using a mortar or the back of a spoon, you can crush garlic and mix it with a pinch of salt, which is also antibacterial and may reduce inflammation.
  2. Apply the mixture to the affected tooth using your fingers or a cotton swab.

Avoid cramming the garlic so far into the tooth that it becomes stuck, especially if there is a cavity present.

Some people are allergic to garlic. If this is the case for you, you’ll want to avoid this remedy.

Garlic is considered safe to eat if you are pregnant, though eating too much may cause heartburn (even if you’re not pregnant).

If you’re allergic to garlic or don’t like the taste, there are other home remedies you can try to reduce toothache pain.

Cold compress or ice pack

Ice packs constrict blood vessels, which can reduce pain. Ice also reduces swelling and inflammation.

Saltwater mouthwash

Saltwater is a disinfectant and may loosen food that’s gotten trapped in the affected tooth. You can mix a half-teaspoon of salt in warm water, wait for the salt to dissolve, then swish the saltwater mouthwash around the affected tooth.

Pain relievers

Over-the-counter anti-inflammatory pain relievers like aspirin or ibuprofen can temporarily reduce swelling and pain associated with a toothache. But they can’t fix the root issue of the ache.

Peppermint tea

Peppermint can numb pain and may reduce swelling. Apply a warm (not hot) tea bag to the problematic tooth. Or, steep the tea bag in hot water as normal, then put the bag in the refrigerator before applying to the tooth for a cooling sensation.


Thyme, like garlic, has antibacterial and antioxidant properties that can reduce pain. You can try gently chewing on fresh thyme to help reduce pain.

Aloe vera

Aloe vera is an antioxidant-rich plant with anti-inflammatory properties. It can reduce pain and swelling in the mouth. However, if you have diabetes or are taking medication to control blood sugar, aloe vera could potentially lower your blood glucose to an unsafe level.

Hydrogen peroxide rinse

A hydrogen peroxide mouthwash may help reduce plaque, heal bleeding gums, and relieve oral pain and inflammation. Make sure to dilute the peroxide, and do not swallow it.


Cloves can reduce inflammation, and they contain a known antiseptic, eugenol. You can dilute clove oil with a carrier oil (like olive oil) and swab it onto the affected tooth with a cotton ball, but do not to swallow it.

Home remedies can be effective at relieving the immediate pain of a toothache, but they’re not a replacement for a visit to the dentist. Make an appointment as soon as you feel a toothache coming on.

Effective home remedies are meant to relieve some of the pain while you wait to see a doctor, but they’re not intended for long-term pain relief or care.

See a dentist right away if you experience:

  • persist pain
  • swelling
  • inflammation
  • fever
  • bleeding

When crushed, chewed, sliced, or chopped, garlic releases an antibacterial and antimicrobial compound called allicin that can temporarily reduce toothache pain. But it shouldn’t replace a trip to the dentist.