Wisdom teeth are a third set of molars in the very back of your mouth. Somewhere between the ages of 17 and 25, these teeth begin to move up through your jawbone on their journey to break through your gum line and become part of your chewing mechanism.

Sometimes wisdom teeth cause pain. Your oral surgeon or dentist may recommend removing your wisdom teeth. There are many ways you can reduce pain while you‘re waiting for your appointment, with both natural remedies and over-the-counter medications.

Wisdom teeth are often impacted, which means they are not able to completely enter the mouth. They are sometimes not able to break through the gums. An estimated 70 percent of people have at least one wisdom tooth that is impacted.

You may experience pain because your wisdom tooth is impacted. This can lead to other problems, such as:

An impacted tooth can harm surrounding teeth. Some people experience a cyst around the wisdom tooth. In addition, the location of wisdom teeth means they are harder to clean, potentially contributing to poor oral hygiene.

Any of these problems may lead your dentist or doctor to recommend taking out a wisdom tooth. While you are waiting for the procedure, you can take proactive steps to manage pain.

Wisdom tooth pain from impacted gum irritationShare on Pinterest
Impacted wisdom teeth can be very painful. The gums may be red, swollen, tender, and bleed. Other symptoms include jaw pain and bad breath. An infected tooth should be evaluated by a dentist as soon as possible.

1. Saltwater rinse

One of the most popular remedies for toothache is a saltwater rinse.

Research from 2016 suggests that rinsing your gums with warm water and dissolved sodium chloride (salt) helps promote healthy gums and kill harmful bacteria. Wisdom teeth can sometimes hurt your other teeth or create cysts when they erupt through your gums. So, keeping your mouth clear of harmful bacteria is a good idea.

In a 2021 study of 47 people undergoing periodontal surgery, a salt water rinse was found to have anti-inflammatory effects similar to a 0.12 percent chlorhexidine solution (aka Peridex).

2. Peppermint

Peppermint leaves contain menthol, a natural cooling compound. It has been found to have some pain-reducing effects in a wide range of applications. Although there is no conclusive evidence peppermint is effective at treating wisdom tooth pain, this remedy is generally considered safe.

Try soaking a cotton ball in a small amount of peppermint extract before applying it to painful gums, or rubbing the oil directly on your teeth. Peppermint tea can also be used as a mouth rinse after it has cooled down.

3. Clove oil

Cloves are a common toothache remedy. A study suggests that the active ingredient in clove oil, eugenol, has anti-inflammatory, antimicrobial, and antioxidant effects.

You can purchase clove essential oil, or simply boil four to six whole cloves to make clove water, which you can then massage onto your painful gums.

In high amounts, eugenol can cause liver toxicity. Overdose is possible from ingesting 10 to 30 milliliters (mL) of clove oil. Be careful not to ingest too much of this substance when using it to relieve tooth pain.

4. Cold and heat therapy

Applying an ice pack to your cheeks can help reduce inflammation and swelling. Cold also has a numbing effect that can reduce pain. Applying gentle heat can promote healing by relieving tension and increasing blood flow to the area.

You can use either cold or heat depending on what works best for your pain. Some people alternate between hot and cold treatments. Apply hot or cold to the area for several minutes at a time, several times a day.

5. Aloe vera

Aloe vera is rich in antioxidants and has anti-inflammatory properties. It can be used to soothe and reduce inflammation around the area where your wisdom teeth are trying to grow in. It also helps to heal your gums if they become scratched or cut while your teeth grow in.

You can apply pure aloe vera gel to the gums, and it will cool the area down for temporary pain relief.

6. Tea tree oil

Tea tree oil is an antibacterial agent that may help kill bacteria that develop on teeth. This oil is so potent, it should never be applied directly to your teeth.

Diluting tea tree oil with coconut oil, a carrier oil, and applying it to your inflamed gums could help kill bacteria on your gum line. Tea tree oil shouldn’t be swallowed, so make sure you rinse and spit out any residue immediately after this treatment.

7. Crushed garlic and ginger

Crushed garlic was found in a 2016 study of plant remedies to be one of the more effective killers of pathogens that invade and infect the gum line. Combining garlic with crushed ginger into a paste makes garlic even more effective.

You can crush raw garlic into a paste-like consistency before adding fresh, chopped ginger and applying the paste to your gums.

8. Menthol

Menthol is a natural analgesic (pain reliever) and brings a cooling sensation to your skin when you touch it. If you want to use menthol as a remedy for your wisdom teeth pain, dilute a mouthwash that contains alcohol, peppermint flavor, and menthol before applying it directly to the affected area.

9. Turmeric

Turmeric has been used for centuries as a spice and as a natural remedy for many ailments. The analgesic and anti-inflammatory qualities of turmeric give it potential as a toothache remedy.

You can apply ground turmeric to the tooth area to reduce pain and swelling, or make a paste of:

  • 2 parts turmeric
  • 1 part salt
  • 1 part mustard oil

Turmeric is generally safe, but pregnant people should not take amounts higher than those found in food.

10. Oregano oil

Oregano oil is a powerful healer that can kill bacteria and prevent infection. It could help reduce pain, swelling, and inflammation.

Its antimicrobial and antioxidant properties come from carvacrol, a compound also found in thyme, bergamot, and pepperwort.

Oregano oil is potent and must always be properly diluted. Place a drop of oregano oil into 1 teaspoon of a carrier oil. Use a cotton ball or your finger to apply the oil to your tooth or gums. Do this twice per day.

11. Thyme essential oil

Thyme has been used as a natural remedy to relieve the pain, inflammation, and fever that may accompany emerging wisdom teeth. A 2015 study on mice supported the use of thyme extract in treating these symptoms. Further studies on humans are needed.

Thyme also contains carvacrol, the same potent ingredient in oregano oil.

Dilute a few drops of thyme essential oil into a carrier oil. Use a cotton ball or your fingers to apply it to your teeth and gums. Do this a few times a day. You can make a mouthwash by adding one drop of oil to a glass of warm water.

12. Capsaicin

The active ingredient in cayenne pepper, capsaicin, is said to relieve pain and inflammation. A 2017 review of studies found that capsaicin is a promising option for the treatment of some forms of neuropathic pain (nerve pain).

Capsaicin has the potential to irritate, so you should always start with a small amount to see how your body reacts.

Dilute a few drops of pure capsaicin extract or oil into a cup of water. Use a cotton ball to apply the solution to the affected area or use it as a mouthwash. Repeat throughout the day.

13. Lavender essential oil

Lavender oil has potential to relieve pain, reduce bacteria, and soothe inflammation.

A 2015 study on animals suggests that it could help relieve pain and inflammation. Further studies on humans are needed to discover more about its therapeutic potential. Lavender is generally safe and is sometimes used for anxiety.

Dilute one drop of lavender oil into 1 teaspoon of carrier oil. Use your fingers or a cotton ball to apply it to the affected area several times throughout the day.

Alternatively, you can add two drops of lavender oil to a cup of warm water to make a mouthwash. Use this solution three times per day. Finally, you can use cooled lavender tea to make a mouthwash.

14. Wheatgrass

Wheatgrass is promoted as a healthy substance. Despite some small studies that show wheatgrass may have anticancer potential, there is still little direct evidence to recommend wheatgrass as a pain reliever. Wheatgrass is high in chlorophyll, and a 2020 study found that a component of chlorophyll, phytol, may contribute to a reduction in arthritic pain.

15. Acetaminophen

Acetaminophen is available over the counter in its generic form or under brand names such as Tylenol. The medication is available in higher doses by prescription.

The American Dental Association notes that acetaminophen can cause liver toxicity and gastrointestinal symptoms when taken in large amounts, so people should use the medication only as directed.

16. Acupuncture

Acupuncture typically involves the use of small needles that may stimulate the body’s natural healing mechanisms. Acupuncture has been shown to help relieve dental pain after surgery. A 2014 study found acupuncture relieved pain in people waiting to receive emergency dental care.

17. Aspirin

The aspirin you might take to relieve severe headaches may also help your wisdom teeth pain. A 2015 study suggests that aspirin is an effective pain-dulling agent for people experiencing discomfort in their mouth.

Pay close attention to the label, and don’t take more than the recommended dose of any kind of aspirin. Don’t take aspirin continually for any sort of pain relief without supervision from a dentist or doctor.

18. Benzocaine

Benzocaine is an anesthetic and numbing agent. It is available over the counter in products for dental pain relief, under brand names such as Orajel and Anbesol.

It is not recommended for use in people with deep wounds or lesions or anyone under 2 years old. Older adults may be more likely to have a hypersensitivity reaction to benzocaine.

19. Ibuprofen

Ibuprofen is an over-the-counter medication with anti-inflammatory properties.

It is a nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drug (NSAID). It’s sold in its generic form and under brand names such as Advil. According to the American Dental Association, NSAIDs help with pain by reducing inflammation at the site, while acetaminophen works by blocking pain signaling.

Sometimes your wisdom tooth isn‘t what’s causing pain. There are many potential causes of dental pain. For example:

  • Sharp pain: may be from cavities, chips, cracks, or mean you need a new filling or crown.
  • Throbbing pain: may be from an infection, abscess, impacted tooth, or periodontal disease.
  • Jaw pain: may be from a disorder of the temporomandibular joint.

A dentist can help discover the cause of your mouth pain and recommend a treatment plan.

It will take some time to heal after your wisdom tooth removal. Your oral surgeon may recommend ways for you to support your healing and reduce pain, such as:

  • Avoid hard, small foods like nuts or granola. Eat soft foods and liquids.
  • Avoid chewing near the area of the wisdom tooth removal.
  • Use a manual toothbrush instead of an electric toothbrush.
  • Avoid over-the-counter mouthwash and use only the prescription mouthwash provided by your dentist.
  • Avoid using straws, as sucking can increase bleeding.
  • Take pain medications as prescribed. In the case of severe pain, talk with your dentist.

After your wisdom tooth removal, your dental surgeon will discuss any follow-up visits to monitor healing. They should give you information about who to call if you have questions.

Schedule an appointment with your dentist right away if you:

  • have sharp pain that persists
  • frequent headaches
  • bloody saliva
  • feel an abscess growing underneath your gums

Though not everyone needs to have their wisdom teeth removed, the American Dental Association recommends having wisdom teeth regularly X-rayed and monitored.