Sometimes getting to the dentist today is just not possible, and painkillers just don't touch it.

I found myself in this situation, and in desperation I ran to the fridge, grabbed a carton of milk, put it to my mouth and swirled the ice cold milk around the area most painful, and surprisingly the pain subsided for a considerable length of time. Though, it did come back eventually.

What I did was I then got a cup of milk, kept it beside me and every ten minutes or so when the pain began again I would take a mouthful and give it a swirl, and it worked.

Does anyone know any other good tips for finding quick relief for tooth agony?

  • Since when are we accepting health hacks?
    – Stephie
    Mar 3, 2021 at 12:15
  • 1
    Put some vodka in the milk. No wait, put some milk in the vodka. No wait, forget the milk
    – Caius Jard
    Mar 4, 2021 at 7:50
  • @Stephie Is it health?
    – Lefty
    Mar 4, 2021 at 20:47
  • Ibuprofen 400mg; I think one is allowed to take 3 of them daily.
    – Levente
    Apr 25, 2021 at 1:51

4 Answers 4


Some years ago I had a horrible toothache that I couldn't get treated for a few days. Clove oil did nothing. Over-the-counter painkillers did nothing. I got some industrial-strength painkillers from an Emergency Doctor. Two hours after taking them I called to ask him how long they should take to do anything. He responded, "If they aren't helping you, then you have a problem. You need to get that tooth extracted".

But, like you, I accidentally discovered that cold drink killed the pain immediately for about 10 minutes.

Putting an ice cube on the tooth was too much, but iced water worked perfectly. Drinking the water was a problem though, because the short periods in which I could sleep for 10 minutes were often disturbed due to the excess consumption of water - if you know what I mean.

So I finally settled on:

  1. Keep lots of ice and some water in a bottle.
  2. Take a mouthful of water and try to concentrate it on the tooth as long as possible
  3. Wait until the pain stops and the water begins to get warm
  4. Spit the water back into the bottle
  5. Sleep until the pain wakes you
  6. Repeat from step 2

A traditional house remedy is biting on a whole clove. As with most house remedies, they work to acertain extend, sometimes don't work at all, and never solve the underlying problem.

Whole cloves contain an oil that acts as a topical numbing agent. If you have a cavity in your tooth, lay the clove on the tooth and bite down for a minute to press the clove oil out. If you manage to get the oil into the cavity, the pain should recede for a while.

From personal experience, you might have to bite down a few times to crush the clove, but don't move it around or your tongue wipes the oil away. The fresher the clove, the more oil it contains. The taste is unpleasant, but bearable.


@Elmy is close to the answer from when I was a child: pharmacies and herbalists carry clove oil in little vials. This is the oil pressed from whole cloves, and it contains a natural anesthetic, eugenol (if you put a drop of it inside your cheek, it will make the spot where it was applied numb for a half hour or so).

In the 1960s and previous, when cavities were more common than they are now (because dental care was less advanced), it was actually pretty common for homes with children or adults with a history of dental issues to keep a vial of this in the medicine cabinet.

What we did then (this was fifty-plus years ago) was to take a drop of the clove oil on the point of a toothpick and apply it directly to the cavity (if visible), or to the gum line of the aching tooth and between that one and those next to it. Just a drop or at most two at a time.

Applied this way, the clove oil has the best chance to get into the cavity itself, and will also work down into the gingiva, which is another source of pain in the case of an abcessed root. This will often reduce the pain quite promptly.

Of course, this is also a useful adjunct to over the counter pain relievers like ibuprofen -- those last much longer, but a swallowed tablet takes fifteen to thirty minutes to take effect, so take the pills first, then apply the clove oil (not the opposite order, because the water to take the pills will wash away the clove oil).


The ice and cold milk are numbing your gums near the tooth nerve ending, which relieves the pain. Ice directly on the tooth is irritating the nerve ending, which exacerbates the pain. I use Orajel brand Oral pain reliever for toothaches. It contains benzocaine, a numbing agent.

Orajel bottle

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