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Wisdom Tooth Pain Relief: 7 Dentist-Recommended Methods and 6 Potential Home Remedies

Lady holding her jaw beside a wisdom tooth scan

Pain in wisdom teeth is normal due to various reasons including gum disease or the emergence or extraction of wisdom teeth. The pain can usually be relieved using medical methods or home remedies. But are all remedies really effective?

In this article, we list some effective methods recommended by our dentist, Dr. Pua Hong Ping and have him analyze if popular home remedies are really helpful for pain relief.

Table of contents

There are a number of reasons that may cause pain in your wisdom tooth. This can range from poor dental health to a growing or impacted wisdom tooth.

  • Wisdom Tooth Emerging

    Your wisdom tooth may be growing if you feel pain in the area. As they emerge and break through the gums, it’s normal that you experience some pain and soreness.

  • Cavity Formation

    When there isn’t sufficient space on the gums, wisdom teeth can grow very closely to neighboring teeth. This causes crowding and malocclusion, making it hard to clean which can allow cavities to form.

    Cavities can infect the nerves of your teeth if not treated, leading to intense pain.

  • Gum Disease

    It may be hard to clean the area around wisdom teeth due to the location and lack of space. As bacteria accumulates, it forms plaque, hardens to tartar and this can lead to gum disease.

    In such cases, your wisdom tooth will need to be extracted and gum treatment may be required to remove tartar and stop the pain.

  • Impacted Tooth

    An impacted wisdom tooth is when your wisdom teeth cannot fully emerge because of a lack of space in the oral cavity. This can lead to pain in the jaw and swollen gums around the area.

    When this happens, you’re advised to extract your wisdom tooth soon.

  • Cyst Growth

    When a wisdom tooth is impacted, a cyst can form and if infected, you will experience pain and swelling in the tooth and jawbone.

  • Wisdom Tooth Extraction

    After wisdom tooth extraction, it’s normal to experience pain, stiffness, swelling and bruising as it’s part of the recovery process.

Infographic of the methods for wisdom tooth pain relief

Here, Dr. Pua recommends some remedies for wisdom tooth pain relief that may be effective. For better results, you’re advised to adhere to the instructions of your dentist.

Do note that X-rays may have to be taken to detect possible causes of pain before a dental clinic can advise on the next steps.

1. Take Prescribed Painkillers

Painkillers such as ibuprofen or paracetamol (otherwise known as acetaminophen) may be prescribed by your dentist before and/or after wisdom tooth extraction.

In such cases, you’re advised to take them as instructed to relieve the pain.

2. Numbing Gel

Before or after wisdom tooth extraction, numbing gel can be applied to a swab and gently rolled over the painful area.

This can block the nerve signals on the affected area and hence relieve pain. The effect may last for a few minutes.

3. Apply Cold Compress

Cold compress refers to a frozen or chilled material, usually an ice pack or a cold, wet cloth. The cold helps to numb the area to relieve wisdom tooth pain while also reducing swelling.

After wisdom tooth extraction, it’s good to apply cold compress to the affected area for the first 24 hours.

4. Gargle Mouthwash

Antiseptic mouthwashes usually contain ingredients that desensitize and relieve the pain in your wisdom tooth. Gargle as instructed.

5. Take Soft Foods

Soft foods can be easily swallowed with minimal chewing, which is good when you feel pain in your wisdom tooth.

As a gauge, foods are considered soft if they can be easily mashed with a fork. Examples include soups, porridge, polenta and puddings.

6. Brush and Floss Teeth

Brush your teeth to clean the area around the aching tooth. It’s also good to floss around the tooth to remove any particles that may be causing the pain.

To maintain good oral health, ensure that you brush your teeth thrice daily and floss at least once daily.

7. Gum Treatment

Impacted wisdom teeth may impede oral hygiene, causing gum disease. In such cases, you’re advised to go for gum treatment to get professional cleaning done to reduce further complications.

This gets rid of any tartar and plaque accumulation that could be causing aching, pain and bleeding.

Here are some other home remedies that have been said to relieve wisdom tooth pain. Read on to see how each method may help and if Dr. Pua recommends it.

1. Elevating The Head

Allowing blood to rush to the head may cause more pain and swelling. Thus, some may recommend elevating the head with an additional pillow to help relieve the pain when sleeping.

This remedy is usually recommended after wisdom tooth extraction. For the first few nights after the procedure, you can sleep with an extra pillow to elevate your head.

This allows your body to drain the blood away from the extraction site, thus helping to reduce inflammation and swelling, relieve pain and heal faster.

Dr. Pua

2. Salt Water Mouthwash

A salt water rinse is probably one of the most popular home remedies for pain relief after a dental procedure. In fact, a 2016 study by PLoS One mentioned that dentists recommend using a salt-based mouthwash to promote healing and improve oral health.

A 2015 study by Stewart et. al. also found that gargling a salt water mouthwash after teeth extraction can reduce postoperative complications.

Yes, this can help with tooth pain relief as salt has natural disinfection properties. In fact, this is an easy and common home remedy to reduce bacteria buildup and clean debris around the gums of the wisdom tooth that are causing pain.

Simply pour 1 to 2 teaspoons of salt into a glass of water and stir till the salt dissolves. Gargle the saltwater for a few minutes, concentrating on the painful site, and spit it out. You can do this 2 to 3 times a day to reduce the pain!

Dr. Pua

3. Tea Bags

Tea bags are said to be able to reduce inflammation and pain. This is backed by a 2016 study by Ninan et. al. which discovered that the tannins in tea bags have anti-inflammatory properties that can help reduce swelling.

Here’s how you can use tea bags for wisdom tooth pain relief:

  • Make a cup of tea and let the tea bag soak for a few minutes
  • Remove the tea bag and place it in the fridge
  • Placed the cooled tea bag in the mouth where the pain is
  • Gently bite down on the tea bag for about 5 minutes

An old wives’ tale mentioned that biting down on tea bags can help to promote blood clotting and stop bleeding, the same way that a gauze pad does.

Black tea may be the most effective as it has the highest tannin concentration as compared to other types such as green, white and oolong. Tannins can help to kill bacteria, promote healing and reduce pain.

But note that if you’re experiencing excessive bleeding, it’s best to visit a dentist immediately.

Dr. Pua

4. Aloe Vera

Aloe vera has cooling and anti-inflammatory properties. It’s often used for soothing sunburned skin and sometimes to ease overworked muscles.

When it comes to dental pain relief, it is said that aloe vera can help to reduce swelling around the area where the wisdom tooth is growing or extracted. Simply rub some aloe vera gel on the affected area.

If you have aloe vera at home, you can try using it to soothe the affected area temporarily. This may also help to kill bacteria as it has antibacterial properties.

Since this is a natural remedy, it is usually safe as long as you do not swallow the gel.

Dr. Pua

5. Peppermint

Peppermint contains menthol, an ingredient with numbing properties that can help relieve pain in a tooth.

Forms of peppermint that may help include peppermint extract from leaves and peppermint tea. You can

  • Soak a cotton ball in some extract and apply it to the area or
  • Gargle room temperature tea as a mouth rinse

There is no conclusive evidence to prove that peppermint can help with wisdom tooth pain relief. However, the menthol in peppermint does have cooling properties that may be able to provide safe, temporary pain relief.

Peppermint tea may also be used as a mouth rinse to ease toothaches.

Dr. Pua

6. Cloves

Clove oil contains an active ingredient, eugenol which is said to be a painkiller that provides a numbing effect. This 2018 study by Oxidative Medicine and Cellular Longevity also suggests that eugenol has anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties.

This may be more effective in the tooth cavity rather than the gums. In the past, cloves were inserted into tooth cavities or topically applied to relieve pain. Even though this may help, the effect is usually temporary and does not solve the root cause of the pain.

It is also believed that cloves can aggravate the gum tissue when used undiluted, so use this remedy with caution.

Dr. Pua


It is likely for the pain from the emergence of a wisdom tooth to last for more than 48 hours and continue to worsen with time.

If you’re experiencing pain or discomfort, consult a dentist as soon as possible.

Pain after wisdom tooth extraction can last for 24 to 72 hours.

You’re advised to take painkillers as prescribed and use any of the aforementioned dentist-recommended remedies to manage the pain.

When a wisdom tooth is growing, it needs to push through the gums to emerge. This may cause occasional pain and soreness that can come and go.

Once the tooth has fully emerged, the pain should subside. In the meantime, you can alleviate it with remedies such as numbing gel, painkillers, cold compress and antiseptic mouthwash.

In some cases, wisdom tooth pain may go away by itself after some time. However, if you’re experiencing pain, it’s advised to consult a dentist to get it checked and treated as soon as possible.

Dental surgery may be recommended if the pain is severe or if the wisdom teeth are causing issues such as tooth decay or infection.

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